The Deep Insight, July 21, 2009
My most recent column highlighted the massive ignorance about the U.S. health care system. Too many people want to fix the leaks in our health care roof by blowing up the building. Here’s a novel idea, let’s just fix the leaks in the roof, and here are seven solutions by Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute.
Pipes explains each solution in more detail in her book, The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care, but these brief explanations will make you more knowledgeable about solutions to our health care system than 90 percent of the voting public. Taken together, there would be no involuntary leaks in the roof.
Change the tax code. Level the playing field by allowing employees to have the same tax deductibility rules as employers, which would make it possible for the employees to buy employee-owned health insurance accounts. People would then make more prudent choices, because it would be their money and not their employer’s money.
Reduce costly government mandates and regulations. Just look at Medicare and Medicaid. The more the government tries to control costs with mandates and regulations, the more costs go up and the quality of care goes down.
Allow the purchase of insurance across state lines. This one is more controversial, because the states are vastly different concerning mandated coverage and insurance regulations. But it is worth exploring for the sake of enhanced competition.
Expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). These accounts are available at most banks and allow you to save money tax-free for current and future health care expenses. But as usual, the government has set stupid limitations and regulations that discourage their use. One of the best features of the HSA is that money not spent from the account in a given year can be carried over to accumulate an emergency health care fund that you control. Imagine that. You control the money and not the government!
Support Retail Health Clinics. Wal-Mart and Target are opening health clinics in many of their stores. They are doing it despite some opposition from state bureaucrats and objections from some health professionals. These clinics are not hospitals, but they provide convenient and affordable basic services to millions of people. The clinics are staffed with medical professionals, and of course these retailers know that most people will fill their prescriptions in their stores and pick up some other items before they leave. So what?
Implement Tort Reform. When it costs doctors an average of $250,000 for malpractice insurance, something is wrong. This is driving a lot of doctors away from medicine and out of small towns that cannot generate this kind of medical ante. People’s legal rights need to be protected, but not to the extent that it eliminates health care in some areas altogether.
Provide Vouchers for the Working Poor and Chronically Ill. Brilliant! It is the same principle as providing food stamps for the people who need help buying food. Just like we would not ration food to make sure we feed the poor, we should not ration health care to take care of those who do not have it. Fix the “leaks” in the roof.
Every nation that has gone the route of socialized medicine has made access, cost and quality of care worse. We have an opportunity to get it right. Then why are the Democrats in Congress and the Obama Administration determined to take the U.S. in the same direction?
It’s not about health care, it’s about control.
© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.