One thing most Americans agree on is that our health care system is broken. It needs an overhaul. Lets look at what we have. Then maybe we should consider what we can spend.
Throw money at the problem…
Some people believe the answer is more money from the District of Columbia. We know DC dollars equal our taxes. Unfortunately for you and me, the District is in debt $22.5 trillion. That means our taxes are going to go up. Those same people also believe bureaucratic agencies are making sure everyone is following the rules. Good luck with that. Can you say waste, fraud and abuse?
Others suggest we should import government run models from places like Europe and Canada. A third option would redirect our current system. Should we put patients and doctors in the driver’s seat? Why not make health care providers and insurance companies compete for customers? Hey, where did that concept come from?
The situation on the ground
As we weigh the options, here are a few basic things to remember: Long before Obamacare came the District of Columbia was already in the business. In fact, it was picking winners and losers in health care.
Shortly after World War II, we began giving tax breaks. Those who got health care via their employer got a tax break. The biggest winner was the insurance industry. They profited as more and more people became members of group plans as opposed to purchasing individual insurance.
Medicare and Medicaid
More Washington meddling occurred in the 1960s with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. These government programs have skyrocketed in cost. They have nose-dived in consumer choice. Individuals do not decide where and from whom they will get their medical care. The District of Columbia makes that call. They select various special interests qualifying for those tax dollars.
Then came Obamacare, with a huge push to expand Medicaid. It also essentially took over what was left of the private insurance market. It is full of additional mandates, regulation and taxes. Even better premiums doubled in the first four years.
Last year, the average monthly premium for individual insurance was $476/person/month in participating states. Premiums have gone up, choices have gone down. 80% of counties have only one or two health care plans available. Millions of Americans have fewer choices doctor and health care network selection.
That is why less than 50% of the 24 million people program supporters said would sign up, actually have signed up. For the ones who have, over 86% were put on Medicaid. This doesn’t ensure they have health care. An increasing number of doctors and medical providers no longer accept Medicaid.
Government run models
How should we evaluate a government-run health care approach? Starting with Canada’s results. Based on comparison to 11 similar countries, including the United States. A recent study shows that Canada’s wait times are the worst.
Whether it’s emergency room visits, same- or next-day appointments, seeing a specialist or getting elective surgery; the answer is always get in line. In 2016, Canadians waited an average of five months for medically necessary specialist treatments. Almost 60,000 of them visit the U.S. and other countries for medical care annually.
In the United Kingdom they’ve had 70 years to figure out how to run a government health care system. Over 80% of doctors say their workplaces are understaffed. Over 50,000 “non-urgent” surgeries were canceled in 2018. The system was overwhelmed by flu season.
Competition and free markets
So, if more money and more direction from Washington isn’t the answer. If putting everyone in a national health care system isn’t the answer? Then what is? What if we tried the completely opposite approach? What if we put individuals, you know patients, aka. consumers in the driver’s seat?
Think about it. In industry after industry where businesses compete, what happens? Choices and innovation increase, prices and barriers to access come down. A similar approach needs to be taken in reforming our health care system. Sure, it won’t happen overnight. But even a small step in the right direction show the possibilities.
In Place examples
Seven states obtained waivers from Obamacare mandates. This gives them the freedom to try new approaches. They are projecting higher enrollments in 2019 and significantly lower costs. Both things are positive changes.
Cost is 30% lower in Maryland, almost 20% lower in Alaska and Minnesota, and 15% lower in New Jersey. All the approaches use innovation and competition to achieve savings. Their relied on tools also helping those with pre-existing conditions get access to care. These are examples of what can happen.
What would happen if the operating philosophy became “more choices and competition”. We need to get away from “one size fits all.” Individuals and families have different needs. They have different preferences. That is true of most things in life. And yes, that includes health care.
Isn’t it time our politicians respect our wishes. When are our laws going to allow more choice? Where are your congressman and senators on this? Are they supporting your right to healthcare choice? Are they protecting your wallet and watching your tax bill? Or are they supporting their Party at your expense? What’s better for you?