I boarded an airplane Tuesday for the first time in 18 months to attend an actual, real-life, in person conference in Austin.
How great it was to see friends and colleagues in person and not on Zoom. Bringing the third dimension back into play somehow sparks energy, enthusiasm, and creativity in conversations and makes everything feel real and right again.
The occasion was the annual Heritage Resource Bank conference. Hundreds of conservative think tankers from all over the country gathered to discuss issues and ideas on everything from border security, school choice, and election integrity to “A path for personalized health care”—and much more.
Heritage chose Texas as the venue. Texas boasts a rich history that has shaped the American spirit in so many ways, and its free-spirit culture is a magnet for in-migration today. The U.S. Census Bureau says the Lone Star State had 373,965 more residents in 2020 than in 2019, a bigger increase in raw numbers than in any other state. Experts believe the number will increase by as much again this year—even as Florida is close on its heels (or spurs).
Many are escaping cities and states where it feels there is so much wrong with the country right now—cancel culture, critical race indoctrination, woke corporations, media outlets detached from objective reporting, and small businesses still desperately struggling to survive. But here, you have hope again. You see hard working Americans who are sure they can prosper if government just gets out of their way.
We talked a lot about health care, of course and about ideas to give people the independence and control they seek in other aspects of their lives. “Does the average person know that $22,000 a year comes out of their salary to pay for their family’s health insurance policy?” asked Rep. Chip Roy who represents Austin in Congress, “plus the $7,000 or $8,000 they pay for their share of the premium?” If they knew that, do you think that at least some of them might want to see if they could find a better deal?
Kansas State Sen. Beverly Gossage, who spoke on a panel with Rep. Roy, contrasted the high-deductible, high-premium, narrow-network Obamacare plans with new more flexible, affordable short-term policies.
She recounted a story of a patient who had emergency gall bladder surgery a month after buying a short-term plan. The plan paid for the $95,000 procedure, minus the patient’s $2,500 deductible.
In contrast, a patient with an Obamacare plan would have had to pay an $8,550 deductible plus co-pays that could easily put the bill in five figures. And the premiums for the Obamacare plan would have been double those of the short-term plan.
“Which one is the junk insurance?” Sen. Gossage asked.
Choice. Ownership. Control. Affordability. Portability. Quality. Security. Aren’t those our goals?
The big secret is that we are paying so much more than we need to for health coverage and care because so much of the spending is controlled, not by us, but by private and public bureaucracies that have no incentives to contain costs.
The spirit of liberty is still alive and well in America. Our challenge is to revive that spirit in health care, take back control, and chart a new course toward health freedom.