My Thoughts About Solving the US Health Care Crisis
by Steve C Finney, Jr
(Dallas, TX USA)
Original Date of Submission: October 2009
Well like so many others, I've spent an enormous amount of time watching the hearings in congress on C-Span as well as reading provisions of Bills and reading/listening to experts. The issue is simply too complex to write a simple solution.
However, in my opinion the first question is should health insurance companies be allowed to operate strictly on a protected for-profit basis? My answer is no.
First step is to eliminate the anti-trust exemption for the insurance companies that has existed since 1945 in the McCarran-Ferguson Act. Insurance companies are entitled to make profits, but 400%? I do think there is more of a moral and value component at play in addition to simple free enterprise. We are talking about the health and life and death issues of our citizens.
Second, allowing greater competition by having more choices and options is very important. This can be done by having several companies operating in a state and/or through providing a public option the way Medicare operates. I'm not so sure either or both are ineffective options.
Although we must preserve a healthy level of competition in the industry, the idea of a co-op or public option or even a trigger certainly has the ability to do so, the problem is the cost. But how do we pay?
Do we cut services at a time when people demand greater services? Hence government needs to increase revenue. If the marginal tax rates were adjusted upward by 3% and the revenue strictly earmarked for health services and not pork spending financing such reform would not be such a big issue.
Even just a repeal of the 2001 tax cut could do the job, however,
because of the economic downturn, raising taxes at a time like this could be very tricky. Yet, we are willing to spend money to bail out the financial services industry, but at the risk of a total collapse if we didn't. The value of the dollar continues to decrease and we are in the mist of two serious military conflicts.
I think raising deductibles also can help slightly. However, the data shows the largest expenses are because of treatment that occurs too late for some preventable conditions or conditions that could have been detected earlier. So early detection and prevention is a key component in the long run.
The industry has definitely been unregulated for far too long, and any unregulated industry that cannot regulate itself requires intervention. The current plans are not government take-over and the slippery slope argument is flawed. However, financing such reforms is the real question.
Major reforms are needed and are moving. I assume there will be unintended consequences that will require additional reforms in the future. That is fine. In, 1995, HMOs were supposed to be the solution and yet see where we ended up, and we are pushing through reforms currently. So the argument that whatever becomes law is what we will be stuck with, is not of concern to me.
I as one citizen would be willing to pay more in taxes to ensure that if I lost my job or someone in my family lost insurance there would exist a safety net option to ensure proper treatment was available. Another financing option, that is very controversial is means-testing social security, but that's a different topic for a different day.
**Publisher's note: To contact Mr Finney, visit his LinkedIn Profile.