Most Americans believe that no matter how bad something is, Congress can always make it worse. With their new health care bill, Republican Congressional leaders seem intent on proving that point. Even those with a passionate hatred of Obamacare can find something to hate in the GOP replacement plan.
The plan fails because is based upon the mistaken belief that only official Washington can fix what ails our nation’s health care system. In truth, the solutions we need will come from outside the world of politics.
Amazing new technologies can provide better health, lower costs, and more personal control. Resistance to these benefits exists because they threaten powerful insurance and health care companies. If, for example, we can get an EKG on our smart phone, why would we pay a lab to do it for us? And, why would we pay an insurance company to cover the cost of that lab?
In a free and functioning health care system, the benefits of these new technologies would flow naturally as patients explored the best options for their own care. Sadly, though, we have a politically driven health care system that blocks progress to protect the status quo. Rather than working to lower the cost of care, the political process is more interested in keeping costs high but hidden.
In their world, it’s better to have an insurance company pay $100 for an EKG rather than have a patient do the test on their phone. That provides revenue for both the insurance company and for the health care corporation. The patient is inconvenienced, care is delayed, and the monetary cost is hidden in ever higher insurance premiums.
The first step, therefore, to fixing health care in America, is to recognize that politicians can’t fix it. They are the problem. We need to create a free and competitive system where people can make reasonable decisions about their own health care choices.
The second step is the single most important thing Congress can do. The current health care mandate forces most Americans to buy far more insurance than they need. It benefits insurance companies and blocks new technologies from gaining traction. That mandate should be replaced with a far more modest requirement that people maintain coverage for big-ticket items like surgery. That would dramatically reduce the cost of Obamacare to individuals and governments at every level. It would also open up competition in the health insurance industry.
Finally, there is a third step that could firmly transfer power over insurance companies from politicians to the American people. When offered health insurance, every employee should be able to reject some or all of the coverage. They could then keep whatever savings result in the form of a higher salary. If people are given this choice, insurance companies would have to prove that their services are worth the cost. And, the choices would constantly change over time as new technologies reduce the cost of testing and care.
Three simple steps. Recognizing that politicians can’t fix the health care system, reducing the mandate to improve choice, and giving every employee control over how much health insurance they want to buy. The biggest problem with our health care system is that its run by bureaucrats and those steps directly address that problem. It’s time to shift power to the people.