We offered hope in last week’s newsletter that we can fight our way out of the thicket of problems in our health sector by tapping the huge store of human ingenuity ready to offer solutions most of us can’t even imagine.
It is important that more than half of Americans still have and value their private health coverage, but they are increasingly alarmed about costs—more than $30,000 a year in direct and indirect expenses for an average American family. Imagine if people had better choices and could deploy those resources to obtain the care and coverage they and their families need?
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing about this very issue this week, “Health Care Spending in the United States: Unsustainable for Patients, Employers, and Taxpayers.”
It’s clear that government-centric programs are running out of other people’s money even as those on the Left continue their incessant efforts to drag all Americans into their government programs. Tragically, we see where this goes with other government-run healthcare systems, such as Canada’s, where euthanasia is not only liberally allowed but increasingly even encouraged. Sick people are expensive.
America can fix our problems by engaging private sector innovation and energy, enabling a competitive market that is centered on the patient to provide better, more attractive and affordable options.
Health freedom advocates understand that if we don’t stay engaged, the Left’s government-run single-payer plans will prevail simply because of the mountains of taxpayer dollars pouring in to the system, suffocating market creativity.
So we need to work even harder to advance private sector options—with Health Savings Accounts, codifying Association Health Plans so small employers can get more options of more affordable policies for their employees, boosting telemedicine, enforcing price transparency, working with states to expand more affordable health insurance options, and giving employees more options to gain more control and ownership over their coverage—for starters.
Too many of the biggest private health sector companies have been co-opted by government. With government controlling the spending and the rules under which they operate, they must comply or face ostracism or even punishment. Their customer is the government, not us.
Companies could be creative in offering care, treatment and insurance that meet people’s needs while saving them money if they weren’t in the straitjacket of federal rules and mandates. Still there are flashes of freedom where human ingenuity reigns.
A few examples:
- The happiest doctors I know are those who are working full time as Direct Primary Care physicians—spending virtually all of their time caring for their patients instead of looking at a computer screen to follow corporate requirements.
- Companies like SideCar Health where “better coverage meets better access” lets people see any doctor they want and keep the savings when the provider charges less than what the plan pays.
- Health Equity is the nation’s top Health Savings Account administrator. Despite government efforts to crush private-sector innovators, more than 35 million people have Health Savings Accounts covering a record 72 million people. Most are middle-income families and savvy millennials who value savings, control, and security. But too many people are ineligible for HSAs because of the gnarl of federal health care laws, rules and regulations. Too many people must take what they are offered or go without.
- Dazzling advances in medical technology promise to transform medical care. Imagine an integrated devicethat includes an insulin pump, a glucometer, and software that uses photos from a smartphone to carb count your food and dose insulin. It’s only the beginning of what’s possible.
- And, of course, the potential has barely been tapped with Artificial Intelligence in the health sector to target the best treatments to much-better-informed patients, with the promise of eliminating a great deal of the inefficient, duplicative care in our system today.
So we must explain to patients why they have a vested interest in the outcome of our policy fight. Too many companies with innovative ideas have been crushed or driven out by government policies. Too many people feel like cogs in the system—billable cogs but with little or no power to control decisions about their care or coverage.
Much-needed modernizations in public policy could change that so companies see us, and not their government overlords, as their customers. And we could better focus subsidies on the most vulnerable to make sure they too have access to the best care.
It is important to revive the passion and energy that many political and policy leaders felt in devoting so much of our careers to the battle for freedom. We have the policy ideas and determination to put doctors and patients back in charge of health care decisions.
How refreshing that would be! America is the best hope to lead us into this new generation of health care.