Harold S. Luft

 

On his book Total Cure: The Antidote to the Health Care Crisis

Cover Interview of January 06, 2009

A close-up

To be meaningful, a proposal to reform the health care system needs to be more than just visionary, it must address the complex issues of how the system will actually work.  Total Cure provides such details, discussing how funds flow, converting data to useable information, and describing the ways in which the system can be reconfigured.  In essence, the book offers a blueprint both for those in the policy realm who can change the system and for those citizens who want to encourage their leaders to make such changes.

The logic and details in the book demonstrate to the reader that an entirely new way to pay for and organize health care is possible.  Blueprints, however, are rarely what attract a client to a new house. Chapter 8, therefore, offers what is analogous to the architect’s rendering of the structure to be created from such a blueprint.    Here I describe the experiences of a fictitious couple, Harvey and Louisa.  After their children have moved out and established families of their own, Harvey is offered an exciting new position on the other side of the country.  The couple needs to find new physicians, adapt to new employer-based plans, and compare this new system with the old one with which they were familiar.  Their children’s experiences illustrate how the SecureChoice options work for those who prefer highly integrated HMOs as well as for others, such as one son with recurrent depression, who are kept from full-time continuous employment.  Given their ages, it is not surprising Harvey and Louisa develop new and more complex medical problems and we see how the proposed health care system works for them.  The chapter also provides a picture of how physicians are likely to react to the new freedoms and responsibilities of SecureChoice.  The Harvey and Louisa story illustrates the effects of the new system on a typical family, giving the implicit rationale for popular support for a major policy change.