By Travis Spencer – Milton, VT
We all know healthcare is a huge topic. Many people I talk to always ask, “What would you do? how would you change it?” Here is my answer. Below is how I would blow up and reform Health Insurance, because really that is the debate not access to care but paying for it.
First off, we have the best health care system in the world. The issue is not access to healthcare or quality of care, it is the cost of care. Regardless of whether you have insurance or not, you can get medical care. If it is an emergency, you can go to the ER. If it is an annual check-up, you can make an appointment and go. We are a nation of folks who spend thousands of dollars on a vacation but complain about a $50 co-pay to take care of ourselves. So let’s have an honest debate and acknowledge the fact that healthcare isn’t the issue, it is Health Insurance reform that we need. With that in mind, here is how I propose to scrap the current system and start fresh.
Remove the Employer-Employee Health Insurance Relationship.
We are trained that we need to find a job that offers good health insurance. This is a concept that needs to change; individuals need to be responsible for their own coverage. Our employer doesn’t take care of our auto or home insurance, so why do we expect them to tend to our health? If an employer wants to offer a subsidy to its employees to offset the cost of insurance, that is fine and can help the employer attract workers. But the employer should not be responsible for finding insurance and administering the plan.
Individuals should have access to insurance across state lines.
Again, we can buy our auto or home insurance on-line from multiple companies, so health insurance should be the same. There should also be more flexibility in the type of plan you choose. For instance, men or women who don’t want kids shouldn’t be forced to carry maternity coverage. You should have the ability to tailor a plan around your needs, with multiple levels of co-pays and deductibles. These steps will lower the overall cost of coverage.
Give everyone access to Health Savings Accounts.
Putting away money to offset any future healthcare expenses is a smart idea. Making these plans available to all and allowing the growth of these savings to be tax free is even better. This could also be a benefit offered by employers to attract employees.
Create tax breaks to offset the cost of the insurance plans based on income.
If the government is so concerned about access to insurance give people a tax incentive to purchase it. Plain and simple.
We need Tort Reform.
Liability insurance costs are outrageous. With student debt, living expenses, and insurance costs to pay, a physician is losing money before they even turn the office lights on. We need tort reform so that the cost of doing business for doctors comes down, a savings that can be passed on to the patient.
With individuals in charge of their own insurance they also need to take more responsibility in the healthcare.
We need to encourage shopping around of procedure prices. When we go on vacation, we shop for the best hotel deals or airfare rate, but we blindly go to the doctor without knowing the cost in advance. We need to allow doctors to advertise prices and also allow cash discounts similar to those offered by many other businesses.
People are more concerned when they have a vested interest in things.
We need to create that atmosphere with health insurance. Personal responsibility is a great thing and if we can motivate people to take better care of themselves and spend more time on their own well being, we will all be better off. If you don’t want to do that, fine; but you must pay for your lifestyle. All this can be done without the government running anything and individuals will win because they have the freedom to live how they see fit.