Let’s face it, the multi-thousand page “Health Care Reform” bills circulating the Senate and Congress don’t do much to really “reform” health care, rather, they serve as a huge shift of power from private corporations to the Federal Government. I’m not arguing whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, or even whether or not it’s the proper role of government. Instead, I offer up some simple goals, and simple “planks” to address those goals.
Heath Care Reform Goals
- Reduce the cost of health care for the individual/family without decreasing availability or quality of care.
- Reduce the cost of health insurance by allowing individuals to select any insurance plan, regardless of employer.
- Reduce costs by exposing actual costs of medical procedures by eliminating 3rd-party billing.
- Promote competition in pricing between health care providers.
Health Care Reform Planks
- Cross State Lines. Allow any health insurance provider to sell any insurance plan in any state.
- Decouple Health Insurance from Employers. Individuals should be able to select any health care plan and insurance provider they wish, regardless of employer (including the Federal Government). This allows the employee to maintain coverage even when unemployed or when switching employers.
- Better Flexible Spending Accounts. Tax-exempt employer and employee contributions to health insurance will instead be applied to an interest bearing flexible spending account. Individuals can “cash out” any unused funds (taxed as income) in excess of 2 year’s combined contributions. This account could be held by any qualified custodian, similar to an IRA/401(k).
- Cap Malpractice Awards. Malpractice awards should be no greater than actual damages (the cost to repair the damage done, time off work, etc.), plus $25K punitive damages. End of debate.
- First-Party Billing. Part of the overall problem is that people don’t know how expensive health care really is, which drives prices up. Prohibit the direct-billing of insurance, instead require people to pay the health care provider directly (with costs disclosed and negotiated up-front). The provider will then supply you with an itemized invoice that you submit to your insurance provider for reimbursement.
- No Government Plans. Get the government out of health care. Medicare/Medicaid and VA now are nothing more than per-person limited credits to the individual’s flexible spending account. Senators, Representatives, and any others on the “all expenses paid” plan now have to go find insurance just like anyone else.
Open and Public Debate
And lest we forget Congress are employees of We the People, we should be able to see what they’re doing and fire them when they get out of line.
(hat tip to Mike Dopp for the video, and for my esteemed co-workers for the active conversation about “real” health care reform.)