Tags: Barack Obama | Healthcare Reform | Medicare | insurance

Base Healthcare Reform on Market-based Insurance

Image: Base Healthcare Reform  on Market-based Insurance
In 2015, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas spoke at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. At the time, the court was hearing arguments in King v. Burwell, a major test of then-President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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Monday, 27 Mar 2017 02:10 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The Republican Party’s failure to "repeal and replace" Obamacare is a political earthquake whose powerful aftershocks will continue well into the future. The result is a party in shambles, and a president in desperate need of a win.

Yet some are touting this embarrassment as a "win," under the rationale that Obamacare will now collapse on its own. Sorry, that’s not a solution.

How much longer must Americans suffer higher premiums and decreased care until a better system is enacted?

People did not elect Donald Trump and a Republican Congress to sit idly. Any third grader can do that. Congress is elected to get things done.

If they can't, or won't, they’ll face the consequences.

But if they enact proven market-based reforms, America will be on its way to an infinitely better healthcare system.

Consider these ideas:

  • Flexible spending accounts should have their "use it or lose it" policy eliminated. Instead of incentivizing savings, such plans encourage wasteful spending as millions buy 27 bottles of aspirin at year’s end rather than see their money disappear. But if people could roll balances year-over-year, there would be huge cost savings.

  • Likewise, expand the cap on healthcare savings accounts. HSA’s are a tremendous tool in reducing costs because they shift much of an insurer’s risk to individuals, incentivizing wise healthcare choices. Money invested in an HSA is pre-tax, grows tax-free, and is distributed tax-free. Bottom line: no taxes for HSA medical expenses  — ever. What’s not to love?

  • America’s hospitals receive billions from the federal government, but they are not held being held accountable. Change that by incentivizing them to reduce their unacceptably high rates of preventable hospital infections and deaths. At the risk of appearing cynical, not only is there no incentive to cut down on infections, but the opposite is true: infections keep hospital beds occupied, generating millions.

  • Let’s get tough by placing stringent accountability standards on taxpayer monies allocated to hospitals. Reduce preventable errors, and you’ll receive full funding — and possibly even a bonus. Keep running a sloppy ship where people needlessly suffer and die, and you’ll lose big time. Threaten to yank funding, and they’ll markedly improve, while healthcare costs are reduced. Another win.

  • And mandate soap and warm water rather than hand sanitizer, as it is more effective in killing germs that otherwise could be spread.

  • Keep the pre-existing conditions element of Obamacare, and retain children’s ability to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. Medicaid payments to states should also continue since it’s 45 percent cheaper than insuring people privately ($5,000 versus $9,000 per person, per year). But administering healthcare via Medicaid would be better left to states rather than the federal government, as the former are always more efficient. States would do things differently, so we would discover (and emulate) the most efficient programs while discarding those which don’t work — the market at its finest.

  • Mandate that food stamps cannot be used to purchase junk food and soda. And no publpic assitance for those failing drug tests. Our money, our rules. Take them or leave them.

Hyper-partisanship has clouded judgment on healthcare. Obamacare was the most expensive health program in history, but right behind it was George W. Bush’s Medicare Part D expansion, another failed government foray which added hundreds of billions to the deficit.

Let’s treat healthcare as we do other market-based insurances. Does that mean older and unhealthy people should pay more? Absolutely. Different criteria determine different financial outlays, and that’s the way it should be.

People living in a flood plain or hurricane zone pay higher insurance premiums. But there are discounts which incentivize us to be better homeowners: burglar alarms, smoke detectors, and strengthened roofs which mitigate hail damage.

Young, inexperienced drivers pay more for insurance, but their rates decrease with age as they become better motorists. Discounts incentivizing safer driving abound: air bags, good credit scores, stable jobs, and avoiding accidents, moving violations and DUIs.

Smokers and unhealthy people are charged higher life insurance premiums, for obvious reasons.

So if we incentivize people to drive more safely and be better homeowners, why can’t we do the same to make them healthier?

Why, if we accept these logical, market-based insurance criteria, do some still disagree that older and unhealthier people should pay more of their "fair share" since they utilize more healthcare services? How long will we continue covering bad behavior?And why should healthy young people, already facing hardships while starting their careers, be saddled with subsidizing hordes of unhealthy people with self-inflicted medical ailments?

The GOP failed to address these ideas — to its peril. If America’s healthcare system is ever to get well, the only good prescriptions are those reforms rooted in common sense.

This article is the third and last in a series. 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.


 

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Freind
Let’s treat healthcare as we do other market-based insurances. Does that mean older and unhealthy people should pay more? Absolutely. Different criteria determine different financial outlays, and that’s the way it should be.
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2017-10-27
Monday, 27 Mar 2017 02:10 PM
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