solutions part 2

Part 1

Private insurance plans aren’t perfect either, since they also help insulate the patient from the price of the services they are receiving. But there are things we can do to make health care insurance more affordable for the average person and at the same time reduce the cost of services.

Here’s some solutions Dr. Laffer suggests:

  • Begin with individual ownership of insurance policies. The tax deduction that allows employers to own your insurance should instead be given to the individual.
  • Leverage Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSAs empower individuals to monitor their health care costs and create incentives for individuals to use only those services that are necessary.
  • Allow interstate purchasing of insurance. Policies in some states are more affordable because they include fewer bells and whistles; consumers should be empowered to decide which benefits they need and what prices they are willing to pay.
  • Reduce the number of mandated benefits that insurers are required to cover. Empowering consumers to choose which benefits they need is effective only if insurers are able to fill these needs.
  • Reform tort liability laws. Defensive medicine needlessly drives up medical costs and creates an adversarial relationship between doctors and patients.
  • Eliminate unnecessary scope-of-practice laws and allow non-physician health care professionals to practice to the extent of their education and training. Retail clinics have shown that increasing the provider pool safely increases competition and access to care—empowering patients to decide from whom they receive their care.

This would be an excellent place to begin. Allowing individuals to get tax deductions for purchasing their own health insurance instead of tying it to an employer gives them control of the policy and increases portability of coverage. HSA’s — I don’t know why this isn’t a no-brainer for individuals once they understand how the HSA’s work. It’s a way to save money for health care expenses, and the fact that you can keep the money you don’t use provides the incentive to reduce your health care spending. Now there are still limits on withdrawal / use of that money and tax rules, but I still think it’s a great program. The big one for me in this list is reducing the number of mandated benefits that insurers are required to cover. It doesn’t make sense for someone who doesn’t need a comprehensive coverage insurance policy to pay the same price as someone who does.  The main point of health insurance should be to protect the individual from financial chaos due to crippling medical expenses.  A catastrophic coverage plan would be sufficient to handle that need.

These are some of my thoughts on the health care debate.  I will now throw it to the audience to analyze and criticize them. 🙂