Health care reform has been implemented in phases beginning in 2010, but major reforms are still to come in 2014. Unfortunately, the incoming system is going to make many problems worse, including the out-of-control cost of healthcare and health insurance. The only true solution is market competition and price transparency. Here are five ideas that would make a big difference, and help us all save money:
Tax Fairness. People who choose to buy their own health insurance usually end up paying unfair tax penalties compared to companies that purchase coverage for their employees. If the law would level out the playing field when it comes to paying taxes, it would make a huge difference to individuals who purchase insurance coverage.
Allowing Insurance Companies to Sell across State Lines. Aside from the federal mandates on health care coverage, states also have their own mandates that are accompanied by increases in insurance premiums. Ending state insurance monopolies and allowing people to get coverage across state lines could result in more affordable premiums because the plans would cover fewer services.
Promoting Health Savings Accounts. Consumer-directed health plans, such as Health Savings Account plans, make people pro-active when it comes to managing the cost of their own health care. Since these policies have higher deductibles, they encourage the consumer to become involved in the purchase decision. Consumer involvement always leads to better results for the consumer.
Increasing Transparency. When patients have time to plan for treatment, they can shop for lower health care prices. Making pricing transparent would go a long way toward lowering health care costs by enabling patients to see where to find reasonably priced services. I challenge you to find a price list at your locals doctor’s office…
Managing Malpractice. Malpractice lawsuits have clearly driven up the cost of medicine, and created a system where doctors over-treat simply to avoid being sued. Denmark has a unique system to manage malpractice costs. Patients don’t need to file expensive lawsuits. They fill out a form online for free. Their doctor may even help them.
Since doctors aren’t being sued, they don’t need the costly malpractice insurance that’s common in the U.S. In Denmark, a panel comprised of different professionals evaluates the evidence and awards compensation to injured patients or their families.
These are not new ideas. They are ideas that will work a lot better than what we’re about to try.