The healthcare debate is coming to a conclusion, or somewhat of a conclusion as far as government legislation is concerned. The final draft is, perhaps, two months away, but the consensus from the Democrats is that there will be legislation and it may contain a public option, or a trigger for a public option.
The sad thing about this whole episode of government involvement in the industry is that it’s completely unnecessary. There are numerous options available for government to consider without direct action being taken.
1) Allow insurance to be sold across state lines: This one change will affect the cost of premiums more than any other issue. The cost among states varies greatly and selling across state lines would have an immediate effect upon premium costs. The average premium cost for all fifty states in 2006 was approximately $2600/ year for two people. In Massachusetts it was $8500/year. Do you think individuals and couples in Massachusetts would welcome a chance to lower their premium costs? Insurance providers in Mass. must have a rather large lobby in Washington, DC.
2) Reduce mandates required by Federal and State authorities: Currently, there are over 2100 mandates that must be complied with at the Federal and State level. Let’s say you’re a woman. Well, you have erectile dysfunction as a requirement in your insurance policy. Let’s say you’re a man. You have to have invitro fertilization in your policy. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? There are many more requirements in everyone’s policies that bear no relation to the person being able to use the coverage. Specials interests must have huge lobbies in both the Federal and State governments.
3) Tort reform: Howard Dean had it right when he said that the reason that tort reform was off the table was because the administration didn’t want to take on the trial lawyer lobby. At least he was honest, for a change and quite unusual for a politician. The lawyer lobby contributes heavily to the Democratic party. Make awards for malpractice reasonable and billions would be saved.
For additional ideas I’ll refer you to the web site CAHI.org. The Council for Affordable Health Insurance lists numerous other possibilities to make health insurance and healthcare affordable. But don’t wait for the Democrats to present these ideas anytime soon. The question remains--WHY? Ideology plays a huge role in politician’s and their supporters thinking. Liberals tend to believe that government can answer for the private market’s inequities. I beg to differ. Government has not made the United States of America a prosperous nation; it’s the reduced role of government that has made this country the most productive, the most prosperous nation in the history of the world.
Soon we’ll find out if the Democrats, or Republicans are right about the future of healthcare. By the year 2020 we’ll know based on whether healthcare is affordable and accessible. May the best ideas win.