I came across an article by Pat Regnier at CNN Money whom proposes three different choices for reforming health care in America. Health care is definitely the number two most important issue in America behind the war in Iraq. Once you stop talking about Iraq, the issue of health care comes up. What do we do? Do we allow the government to take full control of it and get taxed out the rear, or do we completely put it in the hands of employers and citizens to buy health care on their own? If you put it in our hands, then we continue to have the problem where people don’t buy it, and then they go to the emergency room to seek free help. Hospitals will do pro bono work and pass the costs off on the people who do pay for insurance. This is the dilemma.
Here are his three ideas for reforming health care:
BIG IDEA NO. 1 Insurance isn’t a right. It’s a responsibility.
BIG IDEA NO. 2 The road to reform runs through Form 1040
BIG IDEA NO. 3 Create the not-exactly-national health plan
The first big idea is to mandate individuals to pay for health insurance coverage. Basically, it’s against the law to walk around without health insurance. This would be similar to having basic auto insurance coverage which almost all states require operate a vehicle. The problem that I have with this is that I don’t really think the government should have enough power to tell me what to do and what to buy. I understand the auto insurance coverage thing, because it protects you if someone causes an accident that injures others. But health insurance affects you and your family.
The second big idea involves being taxed more for health insurance. This leans more towards the universal health care idea. I am strongly opposed to letting the government completely control health care. They will screw it up. I promise you. Look at all of the programs that the government controls and tell me which one runs smoothly. The veteran’s affairs hospitals, Medicaid, Medicare, FEMA, and the list goes on. Also, look at Canada and England. Their health care system is horrible and they both run on universal health care systems. They also pay like 16% sales tax and horrible income taxes.
The third big idea is a hybrid health care plan that incorporates a universal plan that doesn’t feel like a universal plan. One idea is to have employers offer the standard private insurer plans and then the ones that don’t over health insurance plans would still pay a tax that funds a public health care system. I like the idea of penalizing or putting more pressure on employers to offer health care to their employers, but I also don’t like the idea of small businesses getting taxed heavier. Small businesses are vital smaller communities and they will be the ones to fund the lion share of a plan like this because larger companies can afford to offer health care plans to their employees.
Basically, I think you have to look at solving the health care crisis by looking at it in terms of who is receiving the health care. You can break it down to four categories of people: The elderly, children, poor and mentally ill, and middle/upper class.
The elderly need assistance with health care until we can put in place a plan that allows younger people to help fund their insurance coverage for their later years. I think we should continue to help fund the elderly until we put a good plan in place.
Children from poor families need to continue to have health care. We need to protect our children and continue to pay taxes to help fund health care plans to make sure that children from less fortunate backgrounds receive adequate health care.
The Middle/Upper Class
I think that the HSA makes the most sense for the middle class and upper class in the long-term. The problem is that most people don’t think in terms of 5 to 10 years from now. They think of 1 to 3 years from now. If you look into an HSA, you will see that there is a huge deductible that needs to be satisfied, but if you or your family is generally healthy, you can save up enough money in your HSA to cover the deductible, and then the plan pays for 100% of health expenses. Also, the HSA has tax deductions and you can roll the money saved in it to the next year.
This is the biggest problem with the health care system. The people that makes around the poverty level won’t or can’t pay for health care. They just can’t afford it. When it’s either food/shelter or health insurance, food and shelter come first. I really feel for the people that have to make that decision. It shouldn’t be a decision they have to make. The problem may not lie in the high cost of health care, though. Generally, people are living in the poverty level because they are either too lazy to work hard enough, not educated enough to make more money, or they are disabled. If you are disabled, the government needs to help you out. If you are lazy, someone needs to kick you in the butt and motivate you to start making more money. If you don’t have the education, then you can seek alternative routes to becoming more educated and pursue an occupation with career advancement. Community colleges are an often untapped resource to obtain a degree at a low cost with a high value.
If we start breaking the health care crisis down into categories of people and how we can help those categories of people, it may seem like a much less daunting task than when we look at it from an overall perspective. We’ll probably never agree to have universal health care for everyone, but we’ll probably never agree put it in the hands of all people. So, we need to agree on universal health care for some, and personally expensed health care for others.