According to some prominent Democrats and the mainstream media the groups on either side of the health care debate are very different people. One side is compassionate, visionary people who stand for fairness and health care for all; the other side is greedy, hard hearted people with no compassion for those in need as long as their own needs are met. In reality, almost all Americans believe the current health care system needs fixing and there is almost universal agreement regarding the desired outcomes of health care reform. Americans want a system that is affordable, accessible, portable, uses a clear understandable pricing structure and provides high quality care. The only disagreement about health care reform is how to best go about getting to a successful resolution.
One side believes that only Washington is able to solve the problem. Since we have extensive experience with Washington managing large complex programs, I think we all know how that will turn out. The inevitable result of this approach is Congress would ultimately be in charge of our health care decisions and we would be burdened by a one-
size-fits-all, expensive, inefficient, rationed, bureaucratic mess.
I believe individuals and their families, not Washington, are the experts when it comes to understanding their health care needs. A reformed health care system should be patient centered and operate within a consumer based market. Key principles include:
* Individuals should be the key decisions makers in the health care system, just as they are for other consumer purchases. When you buy a car, the salesman doesn't decide which car is best for you; you decide based on your preferences and what you believe best meets the needs of your family.
* Individuals should buy and own their own health care coverage. Health care must belong to the individual, not the employer, so that if the individual changes jobs, their health care coverage goes with them to their new place of employment
* Individuals should be able to choose their own health care coverage from a wide range of choices. In a normal market, consumer choice is a fundamental expectation. Artificial barriers that prevent consumers from purchasing coverage from providers across the country need to be eliminated. Increasing competition will bring health care costs down.
* The price of health care choices should be transparent. In a normal market, consumers know up front the cost of the goods or services they are purchasing so they can evaluate which product provides them the most benefit for their money
* Individuals should have the opportunity to change policies if they are not satisfied with their provider. Again, in a normal market, consumers who are dissatisfied with company service or the quality of the products they are provided are free to seek a better option. They are not tied into a single service provider who has no financial incentive to meet their needs. Can you imagine an insurance company treating their customers poorly, like many currently do, if the consumer could "vote with their feet"?
In addition, lawsuit abuse reform is essential to bringing down health care costs. Often doctors order medical procedures as an extra defense in case they are sued; not because the doctor actually believes the test is needed. Even ridiculous lawsuits cost doctors money; an expense inevitably passed on to you.
And finally, in the current system, individuals who purchase coverage through their employer receive a tax break on the value of their health care benefits; those who purchase coverage on their own receive no comparable tax break. ALL consumers should receive a tax benefit to encourage participation in the health care system.