Archive for September 9, 2009

Some Common Sense Ideas on Healthcare

September 9, 2009 2 comments

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It is important to understand that one of the reasons for the high cost of healthcare in the United States is a product of the successful development of breakthrough medications and procedures that have stemmed from the incentives of a free market. When people seek the cutting edge medical care that could save or prolong their lives, they inevitably head to America.


On the other hand, we must face the facts that far too many people are being either totally disenfranchised by our current system and/ or only seek a healthcare professional under the direst of circumstances.

The problem is that each party has opposing lobbies with conflicting interests in healthcare, which comprises approximately 1/6 of our entire economy. So what can we do, and what should we do?

With so much at stake and so many special interests involved it would be far preferable to take each of the important steps needed to provide more coverage at a lower cost one at a time. Trying to reform the healthcare industry in one giant step raises the very real possibility that we could take a healthcare system with some serious problems and exacerbate those problems. If fact, sweeping healthcare reform runs the risk of completely breaking the system.

How? Well, there is a limited supply and increasing the demand over night will overwhelm the system. In other words, there are only so many doctors, nurses, hospitals etc. and adding millions more consumers of this limited resource in a nearly immediate fashion would completely overwhelm the human and physical infrastructure that is currently in place.

So what are some common sense solutions we can take, one step at a time, to bring about the type of healthcare and health insurance reform that all Americans seek?

We can lift the restrictions that cause a limited number of insurance options in each state. Perhaps nothing would do more to improve the affordability of insurance, and the quality of insurance than this single step. Nothing can compete with the free market when it comes to picking winners and losers. People are not stupid, and they will gravitate towards the companies providing the best benefit for them at the best price. This will drive other companies to match or beat them in order to compete. In doing so, many will either learn to become more efficient or simply go out of business.

There will have to be regulation in the health insurance industry, and it is very conceivable that even a Government mandate that no pre-existing conditions be permitted as a reason for denial of insurance would not hamper the companies’ ability to compete.Now, let’s suppose that this is accomplished, and the country is given six months to eighteen months to adjust.

Tort reform would provide even more savings. It is well known that too many physicians are practicing defensive medicine due to the ease with which they can be sued. This results in increased costs due to the number and types of tests that are ordered. This is the direct result of court settlements that have cited the failure of physicians tried for malpractice to run specific tests in specific circumstances.

Tort reform also will lift some of the enormous cost that many physicians have as a “built-in” overhead. If a doctor has to pay $100,000 per year to protect him or herself from malpractice suits, that cost is passed on to the consumers of healthcare.This will not come easy, because this particular lobby is a critical component of one of the major parties.

We could move towards individual and family insurance coverage as opposed to group and employer based insurance. There is more here than meets the eye, and it will not be simple, but it is something that can be accomplished with some serious effort by lawmakers.

In conjunction with allowing for the purchase of insurance across state lines, we could give tax benefits to individuals in order to help them pay for health coverage. At this point, it is critical for those on the right to understand that tax cuts alone are not sufficient.

There are those in our society who are challenged by physical and/or mental limitations, and cannot provide for themselves, never mind pay for health insurance. Tax benefits do nothing to help this vulnerable group, and are insufficient even with the above reforms to provide for those among us who need us the most.

It is unhelpful to categorize the right as having no compassion for the truly needy. It simply is not accurate. Conservatives have great compassion for those who cannot help themselves; they simply have no tolerance for those who choose not to help themselves.


Subsidies for the truly needy, coupled with counseling to help move as many as possible from dependency to independence would help to cover those who face special challenges. In fact, if all members of Congress would pledge for one year to demur pork barrel projects, a significant portion of the cost of this part of the care could be covered while other measures are being calculated and implemented. In 2008 there was approximately  $17 billion in pork.

While this would not be sufficient to cover the truly needy, it would provide some help. With the other measures above eased into action, costs would be reduced as companies streamlined to compete and so, even covering these neediest people would be less expensive than under currently proposed bills.

There are certainly other viable ideas that could take advantage of the free market and still protect those who cannot help themselves, and all are welcome. I do not expect that even all Conservatives will agree with everything I’ve proposed here. That’s fine. We’ll work together to come with better ideas that do not change the fundamental nature of our republic.

What America has demonstrated over recent weeks is that people are not ready or willing for the overreach of Government into healthcare and their private lives. Protests are not anti-Obama, as some have not characterized them, nor are they motivated by spurious notions of what Congress is proposing.

Stop underestimating the American people, and provide them with healthcare reform that fits the beliefs of what most Americans consider the fundamental nature of our great nation. Trust Americans and trust the system that has made America the greatest nation on earth – free markets with sensible regulation.

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