Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ten Ways to Improve Healthcare in America

I mentioned in a previous post the Barack Obama made the statement that no one is offering any alternatives to the “healthcare crisis” in America. I agree with him that we need change. I agree with him that the majority of the Republicans are offering no real solutions to the problem. But the real solution is radically different from either his plan or what the majority of the Republicans are saying. Here are 10 alternatives to more government and higher taxes:

First of all the government itself makes too many mandates on private insurance companies. They are not allowed to offer “incomplete” coverage. This means you have to pay for coverage for things (pregnancy care, alcohol addiction recovery programs, etc.) even if these things do not at all apply to you. So you already have partially socialized healthcare even if you only have private insurance. They have laws which prevent the sale of insurance across state lines. Why? Just to drive up costs so that the insurance companies can make more money. But getting rid of the insurance companies is not the answer. Then you will be paying for someone else’s risky behavior though your taxes (you already are, but with H.R. 3200, it will be more so). But getting rid of these mandates would save you 20% to 50% on your healthcare.

Secondly, we need to get rid of all of these incentives for employers to offer healthcare. When we do this, even more mandates are placed on the terms of the plan and the costs go up even more. The employee usually just takes the plan, even though it is wasteful, just to get a deduction on his taxes or because there is no better alternative because the government regulations have driven all the good insurance companies out business.

Thirdly, the attitude of the populace needs to change drastically. You wouldn’t buy car insurance that pays for your gas, minor repairs, oil and tire changes, would you? If the extra cost for the insurance was far more than the cost of the extra services you would receive (even though “free”), you would be getting a bad deal. People need to start paying out of pocket for routine healthcare services and prescription drugs rather than being on some plan, even if it is private, which covers every little thing. That is why the “little things” cost so much. You don’t care how overpriced things are if your insurance company is the one paying for it. You also won’t care how much things cost if the government is paying for it. But this is just an illusion; you are really paying for it through higher premiums and/or taxes. Insurance should be used only for catastrophic costs. Such insurance would be more readily available and cheap if wasn’t for government interference.

Fourthly, government regulations already stifle competition by imposing price controls on healthcare. If a doctor chooses to accept Medicare cases, he is forced to charge the same amount of money for all procedures covered by Medicare. No matter how much better one doctor is at performing a procedure than another, they both have to charge the same price. This discourages good healthcare practices. My understanding of H.R. 3200 is that it would go a step further and not only make this requirement for all doctors, but would make their wages uniform. Socialism takes away incentives to perform tasks well.

Fifthly, the FDA contributes to the high cost of prescription drugs. We need to stop them from banning imported drugs and taking perfectly good drugs off the market. The cost of their expensive drug efficacy regulations is passed on to the consumer. (It costs $1 million just to submit the paperwork for these tests, and much more for all the research that needs to go into it, most of which is unnecessary.) Even the drugs that eventually do make the market are always held up for many years. The supposed purpose of these regulations is to prevent the drug from being sold to people who don’t really need them. But doctors often get around this by prescribing them for “off-label” purposes. The FDA also discourages people from using natural alternatives. The FDA is working for the drug companies, not us.

Sixthly, why not just stop taxing healthcare and health insurance? That would also save us a ton of money.

Seventhly, the government regulations are already so complicated, the insurance companies and healthcare providers must spend lost of extra money on lawyers and paper pushers so that they can comply with the law. They pass the costs on to you, or worse yet, go out of business, leaving less competition which increases prices even more. Simply obeying the Constitution and getting rid of federal healthcare regulations would save us another ton of money.

Eighthly, state licensure laws also raise costs. They are supposed to protect the consumer against unqualified healthcare workers. These laws actually raise the cost of healthcare by increasing healthcare worker shortages. The expenses of those entering the field are increased, making it cost prohibitive for those of low income. Because of this and all of the other frustrating regulations, many people chose other occupations or retire earlier.

Ninthly, the government has no business having access to your medical records. This discourages people from seeking the health care that they need, resulting in the subsequent need for more expensive treatment. H.R. 3200 would make this even worse.

Finally, every involvement of the Federal government in healthcare (except for providing for veterans and military personnel) is unconstitutional (read the 10th amendment). Why try to fix something that is so inherently wasteful and illegal?

There are several bills that you can tell your congressman to support to achieve these ends. H.R. 2629, The Coercion is Not Health Care Act simply says, “Participation in, or access to, any program of the Federal Government or eligibility to receive any benefit under Federal law shall not be conditioned on the purchase or maintenance of health insurance coverage. No individual or agency of the Federal Government shall ever require any individual to purchase health insurance coverage.H.R. 2630, The Protect Patients and Physicians Privacy Act is also a good bill that would do what it says. H.R. 3217, Health Care Choice Act of 2009 would loosen restrictions on selling health insurance across state lines. Finally, H. J. RES. 48 is a proposal for a Constitutional amendment which would prohibit government from engaging in any business activities not specified in the Constitution (including healthcare) and would shut down all such engagements within a period of three years, sell all assets related to these activities, and abolish federal income taxes so that this never happens again.


bernie said...

Excellent suggestions, I used some of them in my article Those Greedy Health Insurers - NOT with a hat tip to you.

Steve Parker said...

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