Mike Rowse A voice from New Mexico

3Aug/170

We can take back healthcare…

I was reading an article on a webpage I go to frequently, I think it was freedom outpost, but the author of the article had posted a question on his Facebook page. The question was, “what do we do to fix the health care system in the United States?”. One thing I want to point out is the current debate that is taking place in the public forum is not truly about reformation of healthcare. All of this discussion about Obama care and the solutions to curing the problems that legislation caused as well as the problems that legislation was supposed to fix, are about paying for healthcare. We now have not really had a discussion about resolving any problems in the health care system itself and that is a much deeper discussion that we will not delve into in this article.

Some of the responses to the question were things that we have talked about, such as getting the federal government out of healthcare altogether, establishing a free market system like we used to have, and cracking down on Medicare and Medicaid fraud. But there were also some comments that show there is still a lot of ignorance in the general population.

For example one commentor said that insurance companies should be forced to compete across state lines. Now I am sure there are some insurance companies that use this lack of freedom to do business in multiple states to their advantage, but having been in this industry for a long time I know that the majority of companies do not want to have to go through all of the regulatory processes that are required to be able to enter the market in each individual state. More importantly, they also want to be able to combine small state markets with larger state markets in order to improve actuarial accuracy and to be able to spread losses out over a larger group of insureds. This brings costs down for them because it makes losses and income more predictable and it reduces premiums for the consumer. To say that insurance companies don’t want to be able to compete across state lines is buying into a liberal fallacy.

Another person wanted the federal government to go after big pharmaceutical and hospital companies for the greedy pigs they are. Now certainly these companies can make a lot of money and sometimes we see predatory practices such as we saw with the EpiPen. But while these incidents get a lot of press and create a lot of outrage the bigger problem is the regulatory process that governs the medical industry. Bringing a drug to market for example can take years or even decades and it costs a lot to do the research. Those companies would not engage in the research and bring life saving drugs to market without some guarantees that they’d have a chance earn a return on their investment. You wouldn’t like it if you invented a product and then the day after you began selling it, another company was able to copy you and sell the product for less because they didn’t have the initial investment that you did. Part of the cure to this problem is being able to bring those drugs, treatments, medical equipment, etc. to market sooner by shortening the regulatory process. Several studies have shown that the vast majority of products did not get safer because of additional reviews that are often required by the FDA. That would also make medical care less expensive for us.

Then there’s the complaint that Congress doesn’t have to enroll in Obamacare or they have a health insurance plan that is different than what we are required to have or is available to us. That’s something we’ve talked about for a long, long time. Turns out that may not be exactly true. It appears that federal employees were required to participate in Obamacare but that elected officials and their staff were not eligible for subsidies. Because these employees, many of whom make in excess of $100,000 couldn’t afford insurance in the private market, they complained loudly. Obama issued an executive order that placed staff and elected officials under the federal payroll system which then made them eligible for subsidies and then gave them all a subsidy in excess of 70%. Now you and I don’t qualify for that type of subsidy and most of us make much less than $100,000 a year. There is a lot of misinformation or confusion about this issue, but the simple fact is that elected officials and their staff ARE being treated differently than the average citizen. It also amazes me that our elected officials don’t seem to be able to put 2 & 2 together; if they and their well paid staff can’t afford health insurance premiums, how the heck can the average person?

There are other things we can do to bring down the cost of healthcare, tort reform and making it easier to form groups to band together to purchase insurance but none of these seem to be getting a lot of traction or discussion. I think one of the biggest solutions is putting the consumer back in the equation but those proposals are not getting much discussion either because the big lobbyists would lose money if that happened. We’ve seen examples such as medical clubs that not only reduce costs to the consumer but improve the level of care and access while increasing profits. These work but they don’t make the lobbyists or politicians any money so clubs won’t be part of their solution. That’s why the consumers have to become educated and demand action from our medical providers; let them know we’ll participate if they decide to change their business model.

Essentially, we can get the federal government out of much of the health insurance and health care debate if we just bypass them and take them out of the equation.

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