A Non-political Plan To Fix Healthcare

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - January 06, 2010
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At this time of making New Year’s resolutions, it seems appropriate to take a closer look at the whopper resolution President Obama, the Harry Reid Senate and the Nancy Pelosi House laid upon us just as the old year was ending:

“Be it resolved in this new year that come hell or high water - even if the votes must be bribed from the swing voters and even if the majority of the American people don’t want it:


 

1) Medicare funding will be reduced by half a trillion dollars just as tens of thousands of new beneficiaries will be added to the program.

2) Americans’ freedom of choice will be usurped as they are forced to purchase health insurance or face significant annual fines.

3) Taxes on middle- and upper-income Americans will soar to new highs.

4) Prices for all goods and services will increase disproportionately as businesses pass on the higher cost of providing mandated health benefits for employees.

5) Future generations of Americans will be saddled with unprecedented debt as this same Congress just raised the national debt limit to a record high of more than $12 trillion. Happy New Year!”

Just as the ill-fated, comprehensive, all-things-to-all-people immigration-reform bill failed a couple of years ago, this Obama-forced healthcare legislation is so comprehensive, convoluted, multilayered, incomprehensible and ever-changing that most who voted for it still don’t even know what’s in it. Understandably, the American people don’t trust that kind of legislation.

None of this is to say that our national healthcare system doesn’t need some reform, but the obvious, common-sense fixes have received little or no consideration in this process. For example:

Tort reform: As our society has grown more litigious, patients have become more prone to sue their doctors for malpractice, frequently with little or no basis other than that doctors with their malpractice insurance are simply seen as “deep pockets” who can provide free money! Contributing to this trend have been liberal judges and sometimes emotional juries who, not satisfied with awards for legitimate losses such as current and future medical expenses and lost potential income, go overboard on the “pain and suffering” portion of the judgment, awarding millions of dollars disproportionate to actual pain and suffering. To avoid such malpractice lawsuits, doctors have become prone to prescribe even more tests and procedures to cover all possibilities. Even with these extra precautions, more malpractice suits take place and insurance companies continue to raise the premiums doctors must pay to cover their risk. All of this raises the doctors’cost of practicing medicine and results in higher healthcare costs.


Tort reform would, by law, prescribe rational caps on the more subjective “pain and suffering” awards, resulting in lower monetary awards, lower insurance premiums, lower medical expenses and lower healthcare insurance for all.

Healthcare insurance available across state lines: Current state laws prohibit insurance companies from selling healthcare policies across state lines. This stifles competition and consumer choice, both of which - if their rhetoric is to be believed - our president and Congress tout as highly desirable in bringing down healthcare costs.

Simple! Eliminate these laws and let the free market operate. The cost of insurance will come down as the quality goes up.

Healthcare savings accounts:

Very similar to an IRA, HSA deposits are tax exempt when they go into the account, and withdrawals for legitimate, predetermined healthcare expenses are not taxed. If there are no withdrawals for medical expenses, the account continues to grow as savings. Early withdrawals for non-medical expenses are penalized. HSAs are held in conjunction with high deductible (therefore less expensive) insurance policies.

As Wikipedia puts it: “HSAs can reduce growth of healthcare costs and increase efficiency of the healthcare system. They encourage savings for future medical expenses, allow patients to receive needed care without gatekeepers, and make consumers more responsible for their healthcare choices through a required high-deductible insurance plan.”

What a shame that our president and his ilk in Congress can’t see these simple, inexpensive, non-political solutions and understand, in this case, less is more!

Oh, well, Happy New Year anyway. Just don’t get sick!

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