Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Health Reform and Alternatives to Obamacare

The main criticism of Obamacare opponents is that they offer no specific alternatives. And even when they do, as Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) did in his plan to save Medicare, Democrats blast Republicans as Medicare-destroyers.

In her book, The Truth about Obamacare (Regnery Publishing, Inc, 2010) Sally C. Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, a refugee from the Canadian health system, and a critic of Obamacare, offers 10 specific alternatives.

1) Promote private ownership with a thriving individual insurance market
- Americans, she asserts, should be free to purchase individual health plans as their private property – just like their savings accounts, retirement portfolios, and life-insurance policies.

2) Make health coverage portable
– Allow workers to carry their own plans from job to job, city to city, and even when they go back to school or take time off from personal or family reasons.

3) Allow individuals and families to buy health insurance with tax-free dollars –
Allow individuals to write off health expenses just like those covered by corporations. Level the tax playing field for all people.

4) Universalize Health Savings Accounts – Allow universal access to HSAs. Couple HSAs with lower-cost high-deductible catastrophic plans. 10 million Americans now possess these plans. Congress should deregulate these plans and allow them to take charge of their own medical care.

5) Allow health insurance to be sold across state lines - Americans can now buy anything else across state lines – why not health insurance? Americans should be able to shop nationwide for health insurance .

6) Pry mandate benefits from health plans – Mandating hair plugs, breast reductions, in vitro fertilizations, and every imaginable alternative treatment costs money, 10.% % in the average state.

7) Implement state lawsuit reform as part of health care reform - 90% of doctors win their cases in court, at the expense of $100,000 per case. Defensive medicine costs Americans an estimated $124 billion a year.

8) Make doctors’ charitable care tax-deductible
- Many doctors would like to offer charitable care, but given the economics of medicine, they can’t.

9) Modernize Medicare – Medicare should be turned into a patient-friendly HSA-like program, rather than paying federal bureaucrats trying to manage every detail. Let every hospital and every doctor post prices, and let consumers decide where to shop.

10) Let the vouchers do the work – Give those outside of Medicare $5000 vouchers and those inside Medicare $15,000 vouchers to decide what is right for them and what health insurance policies to buy.

These 10 reforms, according to Pipes, “would help the United States flip a U-Turn and flee Obamacare with deliberate speed. The alternative for Americans is to remain on the road to serfdom, which has no off-ramp.”

What Pipes is saying is this: switch roles of government and ordinary citizens. Let common sense and self-interests of citizens prevail, and curtail the power of politicians and government bureaucrats.

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