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Public Option vs. Ideal Medical Savings Account: Part 3

Posted Sep 04 2009 10:11pm

 

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Dear President Obama;

Please listen. The American public doesn’t want the public option. They know America cannot afford another entitlement program. Americans do not want increased taxes. They are afraid China is lending us too much money. If and when they pull out it will be doomsday.

The healthcare insurance industry would love you to get your healthcare reform bill passed. It would increase their profits at taxpayers’ expense. The healthcare insurance industry did it to Massachusetts. The federal government had to bail out Massachusetts. Why not the entire country?

Americans want healthcare reform. They would love to provide universal care, have affordable insurance coverage, and increased quality of care. Your strategy is wrong.

There is another way to accomplish these things. It requires you to have faith in the intelligence of the American public. The strategy would decrease the cost to the healthcare system instantly. It would decrease the obscene costs for administrative services to the healthcare insurance industry. It would diminish the need to develop a massive government bureaucracy.

It eliminates the influence of lobbyists for vested interests. It would create competition among physicians, hospital systems and healthcare insurance companies. The healthcare insurance industry is drooling over your healthcare reform plan.

Americans know government bureaucracy can be cruel and inefficient. There are too many generalities that are wide open to abuse.

I received this note from a reader summing up America’s mistrust of government control. This person is neither a Republican nor Democrat. He is an American.

Stanley,

To sum up the recent post you can simply remind readers of the laughable old line, "I am from the government and I am here to help".

It was gaggy enough to see all the pigs at the trough getting 100's of billions.  It will make everyone wretch just watching the same participants helping themselves to trillions of dollars worth of slop.

Heaven help us.  Neither the press nor the Obama fans can see through this smokescreen.  God, haven't people figured out that when the government doles out money poor people don't get helped, rich people do.  Does foreign aid help poor people in other countries.  If it did poverty in Africa would have ended decades ago.

Go back to the days of Lyndon Johnson.  We fought the war on poverty and lost that.  We lost the Drug War.  We lost the Vietnam War, we are losing the Afghan and Iraq Wars and we are well on our way to losing the war on the high cost of healthcare.  All of these efforts were lost not because they weren't laudable goals, but because they were not properly considered.  As you know, some we should not have fought, others we should have fought differently.

Interestingly, the only real win we have had in the last forty years was the war on welfare and it came about because something was taken away, not added. 

Is there a lesson here?

L

How do you accomplish your goals and have the American public trust you once more? You can accomplish your goals of universal care, affordable insurance and increase in quality of care by putting individuals in control of their health and healthcare dollars.

This must sound radical to a liberal. If you permit consumers to drive the healthcare system they will drive the prices down.

How would a consumer driven healthcare system work using an ideal medical savings account?

Employers, states, and the federal government are currently paying healthcare premiums at very high administrative service fees to the healthcare insurance industry. Many self employed are paying the entire healthcare insurance premium with after tax dollars making their cost at least 35% higher than employer based coverage. Most cannot qualify for insurance because of preexisting illness.

The healthcare insurance industry controls the premium dollars. Patients have no financial incentive to be responsible for their health or healthcare dollars. The goal of a consumer driven healthcare system is to create a system that would provide incentives for consumers to be a watchdog for their healthcare dollars.

If these payers gave half of the $12,000 per family per year to consumers and permitted them to keep monies unspent in a retirement account, then patients would be motivated to use their healthcare dollar wisely

If consumers with chronic diseases perform well (weight loss, diabetes control, asthma prevention, COPD and heart disease prevention) and stay out of the ER or hospital because of proper maintenance they should receive a bonus for their retirement fund.

The fees for services would have to be negotiated beforehand as we presently do. All fees should be totally transparent. You would have 300 million people watching and reporting their costs or care.

The remaining $6,000 would buy high deductible coverage that would provide first dollar coverage. The healthcare insurance industry would do very well. If they quit Fidelity or Vanguard could do the bookkeeping.

Think of all the administrative costs saved on the first $6,000. Think of all the middlemen expenses avoided.

Medicare cost per patient in only $6600 per year including the last 30 days of life. The average cost of younger persons is much lower. Cost of care would be decreased because physicians would be paid at point of service. If the cost for medical care was over $6000 for a patient’s care first dollar high deductible insurance would take over.

Medical care is the relationship between the patient and the physician. If you provide the tools and money to create a transparent relationship without middlemen the patients would make the cost decrease as we have seen in other industries. America would have an affordable system.

If the employer became an extender of the physicians care and a patient advocate the costs would drop.

Employers, patients and physicians have the same goals. All are at the mercy of the middlemen (healthcare insurance industry).

This is the American way. It can be done.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

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