Why Isn’t Healthcare Like Fire Service?

1024 576 David DeWolf

Like most Americans, I’m frustrated by the ongoing political battle between the left and the right over health care.

Yet, in a sense, my schizophrenia as an angry independent that is furious at both Democrats and Republicans and almost never agrees with either side is a microcosm of America itself.

I’m unable to decide what the best approach really is for solving what is obviously a very real problem.

On one hand, as a compassionate advocate for the dignity of the person, I believe that every human being is innately worthwhile and should have access to quality health care.

In fact, I believe this so strongly that since the earliest days of entrepreneurship, I have provided health care to my teammates and their families free of charge (no premium).

On the other hand, as a free-market fiscal conservative, I’m tired of the government injecting itself into markets, implementing programs it can’t afford, and racking up huge debts for later generations to pay off.

I believe that a growing economy is the best anecdote for poverty and those who are less fortunate.

I have seen firsthand how my own company’s growth has allowed for the creation of good, well-paying jobs that have literally changed lives in some of the poorest regions of the world.

I believe providing opportunity is a more effective and more dignifying model for solving societal inequity than providing social programs and giving handouts.

While I am a strong advocate for finding a way for every human to have access to healthcare, I have witnessed first-hand how the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) has negatively impacted the coverage we provide 3Pillar employees and the financial growth of my company.

For my teammates, it has absolutely delivered the exact opposite of what was promised.

Due to the exploding costs of healthcare, and the regulations that are now imposed, the coverage we are now able to provide has significantly deteriorated, and my cost as an employer has risen steeply. And as a result, I support major change.

Whether it’s an overhaul or total repeal, I could care less – for me, this is about finding something that works, not an emotional battle about who looks better and is perceived to have won.

I haven’t been able to figure out what to replace it with not because I don’t agree with its intent, but because I think it has done a horrible job at delivering on its promise.

Perhaps until now.

It has recently hit me that the way we provide Fire and Rescue Service may provide a good analogy for Healthcare.

I am far from an expert in either industry, but it seems to me on the surface that, as a society, we have figured out how to provide for each other’s fire and rescue needs in a fairly equitable way.

If we are able to come to the rescue of every human being when they are in an emergency situation, why can’t we use a similar model to provide for their medical and wellness needs?

From what I know about this model, we cover the cost of a reasonable level of care with local public-private partnerships, but premium upgrades (such as security systems, in-home sprinkler systems, or custom fire-proofing) are viewed as individual upgrades that are personal choices.

Perhaps there’s something here that we can learn from and apply to the health care dilemma.

It seems to me that in the case of Fire and Rescue we have figured out how to use the principles of subsidiarity (the organizing principle that matters ought to be solved by the smallest, lowest, most local, or least centralized competent authority) to solve a very real human problem.

Frankly, I have a love-hate relationship with many social justice programs that redistribute wealth.

The intent behind them – to provide compassionate support for those in need – is good, but in implementation, they are intrinsically flawed in so many ways.

I believe that in an ideal world, we would rely on the compassion of the local community to take on the needs of others.

But, while I believe (in most cases) we’d get better results if we left communities to their own devices, I also realize that we don’t live in an ideal world, and I respect those who want to find pragmatic solutions to help others.

But, somehow, when it comes to Fire and Rescue, we’ve figured out a way to do both – rely on local communities and provide a somewhat systematic approach that I have never once found myself frustrated by.

Maybe that’s just because it’s “normal” and I’ve never studied how it works.

Or, perhaps it truly is an analogy that we’ve overlooked.