Take out your crystal ball, pull out your Ouija board, consult your corner palm reader if you must: What do you think health care in the United States will look like in the year 2020? What are the most important issues that will impact the health and wellness of all people in our region in the new few years?
Back in the late 1990s, through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, I co-wrote a book about the future of Health Care in the United States. Released in 1999, Health Care 2020 was written while I was a research fellow at Hudson Institute.
Hudson has a long history of wading into thorny subjects and offering a contrarian point of view. Hudson’s founder, Herman Kahn, a leading futurist in the 1960s, wrote widely on a range of subjects, including the prospects of what life might be like if a thermonuclear war broke out (Thinking the Unthinkable).
Health Care 2020 was not designed to be a doom-and-gloom book. We did not set out to “Think the Unthinkable” about health care in America.
But we did aim to produce a sober reckoning on what America’s hodge-podge “system” of health care might look like in the year 2020.
The ideas we presented and the scenarios we laid out hit the mark in some ways (predicting new drug cocktails for diseases like AIDS would come along to prolong life), but missed the boat on many others (we thought the employment-based tax exclusion would be repealed and replaced by a universal credit for health insurance purchases by 2020).
Today we are only a few years away from 2020. We have much more clarity on what health care will look like in the US in a few years. And yet in some ways we have extraordinary uncertainties:
- Will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) become embedded in the US health system in coming years, or will there be a repeal of the ACA and some replacement program offered?
- As our society continues to age (boomers are now entering retirement age at a fever pitch), will we have the resources to care for these soon-to-be ailing boomers through Medicare as it is currently constructed?
Since our book came out in the late 1990s, the very concept of health and wellness has taken on new dimensions, as we now have a much greater appreciation for the powerful impact social and environmental issues have on health and wellbeing, regardless of the kind of insurance one might have.
So, my question for you:
- How will we tell Charlotte’s Health Care 2020 story?
- What are the most important issues impacting the overall health and wellbeing of all people in our region?
- What are the biggest gaps in care in our region, and what can we do together to create an environment that maximizes the likelihood of good health for all?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Give me a buzz, set up time for a coffee or (depending on the time of day) beer conversation with me -- I spend a large part of my life at 7th Street Market so happy to meet you there.
Or come visit me in our uptown Charlotte Care Ring offices to see how we are providing care to those in need.
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