We really can make health care and health insurance much more affordable for everyone. We can have a system that provides access to health insurance, and increases quality, convenience, and innovation. And we can afford to help those with low income or pre-existing health problems.
We now have a tremendous opportunity to start over, and reform our health insurance system in a way that will really work. The seven factors below will increase consumer involvement and lower costs – and should be a core part of the next health care bill.
1. Promote HSA plans for everyone. Health insurance should be like car insurance. You insure for the wrecks. You pay for your own oil changes and tires. When everyone has a high-deductible plan (including those on Medicare), they’ll all be looking for value when they go to the doctor. And the market will respond.
Tax-deductible HSA accounts will also encourage everyone to save money for medical expenses they’ll have in the future. And those who stay healthy will further benefit, with a nice additional retirement account.
2. Encourage competition. The solution to not enough competition is not to create a government competitor – it is to free the market to compete. Let insurance companies offer whatever coverage they want to offer (and consumers want to buy), within or across state lines. In many areas prices will plummet.
3. Let people be responsible for their own health insurance. Currently if you buy your own health insurance, you pay extra taxes that your employer does not have to pay when they buy health insurance, and you can’t take it with you if you leave the company.
4. End all government mandates. Let people buy the kind of health insurance they want to buy, instead of letting special interest lobbying groups dictate the coverage. Again, prices will plummet.
5. Enact tort reform now. The costs of multi-million dollar lawsuits are ultimately passed down to the consumer. Tort reform is a no-brainer.
6. Encourage price transparency. People argue about why health care costs go up, and yet no one ever mentions that you never see prices posted at the hospital or doctor’s office. (Now that CVS and Wal-mart get into the mini-clinic business, that is changing and we’re already seeing dropping prices.) Involved consumers will drive down prices.
7. Let consumers insure their insurability. To encourage a free market, people should be able to switch coverage to a new insurance company any time. But health problems can currently prevent someone from switching, leaving them basically stuck. Insurance exist to protect against risk, and a market could easily be formed to insure against that risk.
Enacting these changes would not help just a “little”. Instead, they would completely transform the marketplace, and more people than ever would be able to afford health insurance and medical care.
(This time, Congress, please get it right!)