Health Cost Reform

Submitted by david.reagan on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 18:21

There is one thing seriously missing in all the Health Care Debate that is going on in the USA right now. And that is a serious debate between two major plans. Currently there is only one major plan being talked about, the so called "Obamacare." The Republicans have come up with a few plans of their own, but they have been ignored, and some are too similar to Obamacare to appeal to those of us who oppose Obamacare. So, I have spent some time thinking about it, and have come up with some ideas that Congress could start a new plan with.

The first step in figuring out what to do, is to identify the health care system's biggest problem or problems. Obamacare says that it is the lack of universal health insurance coverage and the cost of health insurance. This is wrong.

Not everyone even wants health insurance. Heck, not everyone needs it. The rich people can afford to pay everything out of pocket. Younger people are healthy enough that all they need is something to cover them in case of a catastrophic accident. Thus, universal health insurance coverage is not needed.
The problem with health insurance is the lack of choice, plans that do not fit the customers needs, and the cost.

So, what needs to be done? Increase competition and choice in the health insurance business, and lower the cost of providing health care. This will lower the costs for people who want insurance, and lower the costs for people who prefer to pay their own health care.
Here are some ideas on how to do that.

Divorce insurance benefits from employment status. Make insurance companies operate the same way car and life insurance companies operate. This will allow Americans to pick and choose what they want, and it will encourage competition between companies that lower prices. Companies that won't accept pre-existing conditions will loose customers to companies that do accept pre-existing conditions. Competition will also lower co-pay and other costs.

Make it cheaper to become a doctor or nurse. Doctors and nurses have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on years and years of education. They have to charge their patients a lot of money so they can pay back all the loans they had to borrow. The Government could easily create more grants, and other ways to lower the cost of education, to allow more people to become doctors and nurses. Not only would it make it cheaper for the doctors and nurses, but having more of them would encourage competition. And competition is one of the best ways to lower costs.

Cut the red tape. Look at all the government regulations and forms that health care providers have to follow and fill out in order to do their jobs. Find the ones that are not doing any good, and get rid of them. This would mean more hours that the doctors could spend on their patients instead of paperwork.

Stop frivolous malpractice lawsuits. Doctors have to buy expensive malpractice insurance in order to protect themselves. They have to run more tests on patients than they should, just to cover their bases. Make it so that doctors don't have to buy that insurance, they can then lower their costs. Make it so the doctors can say, "This test might tell us something, but it is expensive and not totally necessary. So you decide if you want to take it." Then, if the patient turns the test down and it turns out the test was necessary, the doctor won't be sued, since it was the patients choice not to have that test.

Create health savings plans. Make it so that the money a person would normally use to pay for insurance goes into a savings account dedicated to paying for health costs. The money just sits there accruing interest until the owner needs to pay for a medical procedure. All the money is the patient's, and the patient decides how to use it. No need for anyone else to be involved. This would cut the amount of paperwork doctors have to go through to get money from insurance companies, and thus save them money. Those savings would be passed on to the patients who use the savings plans.

Create health loans. Say you have to have an emergency surgery done and you aren't covered by health insurance, or you don't have enough money in your savings plan. You are guaranteed to get a loan to pay for the procedure. It would be set up so that anyone could get one if they can show they can't pay for it any other way. This saves them from racking up high interest credit card debt, and keeps the taxpayer from paying any of it. It also saves the doctors and other providers from having to file all kinds of paperwork. It would be the patient or their family that would take care of getting the loan. The doctor wouldn't have to do much, if anything. Thus, again, less paperwork, more savings, lower costs.

Now, all of these ideas need fleshing out. Heck, maybe they wouldn't work the way I think. That's where Congress would come in. They would consult with experts and hold healthy debates, until a solid plan that they, and their constituents, agreed on was created.