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Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee, a member of the Finance Ways and Means Committee and the Ethics Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Public policy & healthcare, Parts 1 & 2

Part 1

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

Part 2

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.



Ron Greiner said...

Susan, the private markets already have HSA Qualifying health insurance. The largest individual health insurance company, in 43 states, has coverage in TN that is very affordable. A 30-year-old couple and two children can get HSA family insurance for $280 a month which has a $100 deductible on accidents then pays 100% to $8 million dollars per person, including Rx. A bare bones HSA family plan is available for $150 a month to this family in your state. Which just begs the question, Why are tax payers paying $1,000 per month for county, city and state employees? I submit that tax payers are suffering because of needless STATE regulations that were created to help certain companies who market dangerous employer-based health insurance.

Why can't a TN employer buy low cost individual HSA health insurance on an employee? Because STATE law makes that illegal. Employers must purchase over-priced dangerous employer-based health insurance on an employee. I further submit that this must be unconstitutional.

President Bush said, "Become empowered with a Tax Free HSA."

Representative Susan Lynn said...

Dear Friends, The above comment is from a fan of HSA's. He is correct, HSA's are available in Tennessee.

I hope this encourages everyone to trust in the free market that has always made our country strong.


Ron Greiner said...

Susan, Chattanoogan.com published a response to your "Time For Health Savings Accounts" from Harriette Seiler, a member of Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare and a member of Healthcare-NOW's Rapid Response Brigade. Herriet is a little confused when she attacked the Tax Free HSA. I am more than a fan of HSAs, I am an HSA Salesman. We enrolled the USA's 1st HSA in Oct. of '96. These Socialists who demand Single Payer, the Government, should have been trying to stop the HSA in Dec. 2003, because now they are a day late and a dollar short. The Tax Free HSA is the law of the land and can't be stopped. President Bush promised HSAs for all Americans and he delivered. The day the Tax Free HSA was passed was the day that Socialized Medicine was terminated here in the United States. Harriet just hasn't figured it out yet.

Imagine, Harriet said that Canadians wouldn't want to save in Tax Free accounts like America's Tax Free HSA. I submit that Canadians would love accounts that their employers could make deposits into that escape the heavy burden of Canadian taxation. Remember, money that is never taxed will last longer in retirement. We call the HSA, compensation without taxation. It's smart when employers and employees ban together and cut the IRS - OUT.

Google News lists your HSA article # 1 for 2 days so you should be proud Susan.

The best tax cut is NO TAXES and it's TIME for your HSA.