Some Health Care Plan Suggestions

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Mr. Obama has been fond of saying that he is willing to listen to all ideas concerning “health care reform.” Some of his cronies tell us that there have been no suggestions from “the other side,” thus leaving Mr. Obama and the Democrats on their own concerning reforming this significant portion of the economy. Actually, there are a lot of different suggestions out there, they are just being ignored by Democrats and the lap dog media.

I didn’t hear Mr. Obama’s health care speech to Congress last night (I don’t have a television), but I did read some summaries of it afterwards. I noted a few things that have indeed been put forth which he did not mention. Of course, he may not believe in them, which is his right, but don’t be disingenuous and say no other ideas have come forth. Here are a few suggestions that we did not hear from Mr. Obama last night, and won’t hear from him because they basically involve letting the free market work to solve this problem.

1. Tort reform. The most important of all. Get the lawyers out of the medical industry and probably billions of dollars would be saved. When I lived in California, my landlord’s daughter was a doctor. She had to give up her practice because she could not afford the malpractice insurance. Doctors all over the country are ordering extra, expensive tests, that often are not needed, just to make sure they cover themselves against a malpractice lawsuit. Let the AMA regulate the medical profession. If a doctor is negligent, he needs to be punished. But he needs to be punished, not me, which is what happens when I have to pay higher medical bills because some sleazy lawyer wants to get rich. Tort reform is probably the most needed reform, but you will NEVER hear Mr. Obama mention that as a possibility. He gets too much money from lawyers.

2. Cross state insurance. I live in Tennessee. The only state in which I can purchase health insurance is…Tennessee. It is illegal to buy insurance from a seller in another state. Let’s abolish this. If I find a policy in Wyoming, which is less expensive, why shouldn’t I be able to buy it? And if I could buy it, do you know what would happen to insurance premiums in Tennessee? They would have to go down to meet the competition. Competition helps drive down costs, folks. Let’s see a little bit more of it in the insurance industry by allowing out-of-state purchasing of policies.

3. Doctors and hospitals could advertise their prices for services. Doctor A advertises that he will do a hip replacement for $5,000. Doctor B says he will do it for $4,500. Doctor C will perform the operation for $3,500. Guess where most folks will go to go their hip replacement? And guess what doctors A and B will have to do if they want to stay in business? How many of us really know how much we are being charged for doctor’s services? I go to the doctor, I pay the co-pay, and that’s it. Yeah, the insurance company sends me an invoice of what they paid, but what do I care? I didn’t pay for it. Maybe if doctors and hospitals had to compete—like every other business not named government—insurance premiums could decrease proportionally.

4. Tax credits for donations to hospitals. Mr. Obama wants to tax the “rich” to pay for his $900 billion health care plan. Sam Moneybags has $2 million of his money taken by government for health care. Where does the money go? Well, a significant portion of it will never be seen by the people it is supposedly designed to help; there are government overhead costs, red tape, bureaucrats that have to be paid, etc. An awful lot of Sam’s “contribution” will never reach the hands of those who need it. Why doesn’t the government simply tell Sam (and countless other “rich” people), “We will give you significant tax breaks for every dollar you donate to a hospital.” Charitable contributions to hospitals would skyrocket. The money would be going directly to where it is needed rather than through expensive, wasteful, inefficient bureaucratic processes. Hospitals (and doctors) would have a slush fund to fall back on for those patients who cannot afford to meet the expenses; administrators could use these funds at their discretion. Now, this won’t obviously cover all the needs, but it would certainly help, and it could up being a lot more money than the government would give, and it would certainly be used more efficiently. Let’s encourage people to be philanthropic; the American people are very good at that when given a chance.

5. Give the people the $900 billion Obama wants to spend on health care. If this money is going to be spent on health care, why isn’t it just given back to the people and let them buy their own? Why do we need government to spend our money for us? Can government spend my money more wisely than I? Take a look at your paycheck sometime, folks. Look at how much the government takes of your wages before you even get yours (and this doesn’t even include local taxes, school taxes, sales taxes, etc. etc. ad infinitum). If government gave Americans back just half of what it takes from their paychecks, most people could afford to buy their own health care and wouldn’t need government interference. Let the American people keep the $900 billion, Mr. Obama, and pay for their own health care. Now, yes, there would probably need to be a law requiring all people to purchase health insurance, as with car insurance. I don’t especially like that, people should be free to do as they wish with their money, but if they are going to be irresponsible and not buy the things they need to protect themselves and stay out of my back pocket, then we’ll need a law. I don’t believe I should be forced to pay for somebody else’s irresponsibility.

An ex-student of mine came into my office yesterday. She’s still going to college where I teach, she just dropped by for a visit. Like most college students, she’s struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford health insurance. She might need it because she does appear to have some health issues; the day before she came to see me she (apparently) had a seizure. It would be wise of her to have it checked. The sad thing is, last week was her birthday. Her mother bought her (and will pay the monthly charge)…an iPhone. Just what the kid needs. Why didn’t her mother buy her something more important—like some kind of health insurance policy? Now, a health insurance policy might not be as emotionally satisfying or as “fun” as an iPhone, but it will come in a whole lot more handy if that girl is really ill. Unfortunately, for too many Americans, that’s the mindset—luxury before necessity, especially if somebody else is going to pay for the necessity. I know that there are people who cannot afford the health costs or health coverage they need. But I also know that there are many, many people--millions--who, if they would only arrange their financial priorities as they ought, could afford a health insurance policy. But, again, why should they if they know someone else is going to pay for it?

The United States was built into a great nation by a certain type of people. A character in Louis L’Amour’s novel Tucker expressed the mentality that made this country great: “The thing that shows the man is his willingness to accept responsibility for himself and his actions. Only a tinhorn blames what he is on his folks or the times or something else besides himself. There have been good men and great men in all periods of history, and they did it themselves.”

What a novel concept. At least it is in the America of 2009, and it will continue to be so as long as people like Barak Obama are elected to high office.