Someone asked me the other day – what is the government going to do about the high cost of healthcare? Like most, this person obviously felt powerless to do anything about the state of healthcare today.
One thing I firmly believe, our government policies should encourage and promote self-sufficiency, prosperity and commerce.
Bad policies oft increase dependence on government; swell our tax burden and knock markets off balance. Healthcare for example shows strong signs of bad government policies as medical care and health insurance have become evermore unattainable and unaffordable, resulting in greater dependence on government programs. Yet, healthcare industry profits are soaring.
Seventy-eight percent of all healthcare spending is now paid for by either a public or private third party payer system. Providers take your dollars, direct your care and neglect to give you useful information about how much services actually cost.
Without realizing it, consumers have lost substantial decision making power mostly due to government policies that have allowed the provider to have more power than the consumer. I feel Policies that the government imposes should at least be neutral – neither side should have an unfair advantage.
Why so much political control over healthcare spending? If we support less government dependence and desire a stable healthcare market why form regulations that foster neither?
Now the Governor wants the state to actually enter the insurance business by creating healthcare plans for the uninsured. Once implemented, steep enrollment increases are projected; eventually expanding limits to include even more Tennesseans.
Public policy analysis? Sparse benefits will ensure public lobbying for broader coverage year after year. Fee structures will entice businesses to drop current more generous health and prescription coverage for the state’s version. Guaranteed issue may encourage people to buy the insurance as they need it and drop it when they don’t. Rationed benefits, meant to curb usage, risk hurting people who are truly medically needy.
Additionally, many of the same old regulations that inflate healthcare and insurance costs will still be around. And who will pay? Everyone - users, businesses using the plan, self-insured businesses not using the plan, government self-insured plans, insurance companies, and the taxpayers – Worst of all, the lack of a long term funding plan guarantees you a future full of heavy taxes.
Imagine that you are supported by a system where healthcare is rationed – if told you do not need an expensive procedure or test, you have no way of knowing if this decision is state of the art medicine or potentially life threatening rationing. And should you need the procedure, you will have to cope with the long waiting periods produced by rationing.
In general, there is no right or wrong amount of money to spend on healthcare. How can there be? Therefore, planning state and federal budgets is fairly difficult, and usually leads to poor policies, over expenditures and some form of rationing.
I believe the stated objective of low cost, portable, and easy to obtain health insurance is a great target. But can’t the private market provide such coverage? Tomorrow, we’ll explore one answer to that question.
By: State Representative Susan Lynn
Yesterday I wrote about the Governor’s ideas to create government run health insurance plans. However, its best to avoid poor policies that may actually increase dependency, assure price increases, and risk hurting people who are truly medically needy. In addition, powerless to do anything else, like a house of cards, the private insurance market may well fold as people fall headlong into government run healthcare.
I believe the stated objective of low cost, portable, and easy to obtain health insurance is a great target. But can’t the private market provide such coverage?
Think about it, do you really want a healthcare bureaucracy and politicians making choices for you regarding your care and your money? If not, who should?
How about you! No one cares more about you than you do. What if you were empowered to make choices based on self-interest, competition, price, and the value of the product or service being offered?
We could accomplish this by promoting Health Savings Accounts (HSA) in conjunction with a major medical policy. The premise is to save for minor illnesses and insure for major ones.
Because HSA owners decide how to spend their healthcare dollars they’re encouraged to become better consumers, pursue healthful lifestyles, and curb over consumption on their own.
They cost less too. HSA’s earn interest and grow with before tax dollars. HSA’s follow employees from job to job, through unemployment, into retirement and ultimately, can be passed onto heirs. Physicians work for patients and help them make good medical decisions instead of working for a healthcare bureaucracy to limit costs.
In the world of HSA’s, government, in its role as an insurer of last resort, no longer serves as a buyer of healthcare but pays premiums for indigent plan-holders until they can do so for themselves. Beneficial policies like vaccine programs and health departments are still available.
Some states are urging reforms that encourage HSA's such as free and open competition between providers, removing caps on medical careers and facilities, releasing mandates, passing common sense malpractice reforms, allowing pooling through associations to purchase plans and urging federal reforms to allow the selling of plans interstate.
I don’t think a government monopoly is needed in healthcare. Instead we need good government policies that empower you by encouraging and promoting self-sufficiency, prosperity and more free market choices with you, the consumer, deciding how to spend your healthcare dollars.
If you are afraid of a market based healthcare system or the concept of a Health Savings Account and think making more of your own decisions may harm your health just think of what choosing the wrong politician could do to your health in a government run healthcare system. Healthcare is one of the most important decisions for your life. Market based system advocates feel such decisions should be left up to you.
State Representative Susan Lynn
215 War Memorial Bld.