Friday, June 8, 2012

Getting Health Care Costs Under Control

Here are a few of my thoughts on the best way to control health care costs without putting a burden on citizens.

1) Tort reform. Limit the types of cases that can be pursued against medical practicioners and limit amounts that can be awarded, thereby reducing the cost of malpractice insurance. Savings passed on to patients.

2) Remove state line restrictions. Each person should be allowed to shop around for the benefits they require, and "comparison shop". Competition drives costs down

3) Unbundle. Currently, people have little or no choice in the coverage their policy provides. Make it possible for people to create their own package, suited to their needs. They might get prescription coverage from one insurer and major medical from another. Again, costs go down due to competition, and people do not have to pay for benefits they do not require or cannot use (should a single male have to pay for mammogram coverage?)

4) Subsidize health. Many foods are simply unhealthy, but they tend to be much cheaper than healthier food choices. Identify the less healthy foods and/or ingredients and tax the manufacturer for producing those foods or using those ingredients (like trans fat, High Fructose Corn Syrup, junk foods etc.) and use those funds to subsidize companies that produce healthy food choices, making the healthier foods less expensive. Easier, cheaper access to healthier foods would result in better health overall, and reduce demand for expensive health care

5) Add a 1/2% tax to FICA to be kept separate and used ONLY for subsidizing the research and development of new medical equipment and/or procedures (not drugs). In return for funding R&D, costs for the equipment and/or procedures would be reduced accordingly

6) Bonding. Any company that produces or whose actions could cause serious medical threats would be required to put up a bond in an amount determined by the scope of the threat. Should the threat materialize, the costs to deal with it are paid through the bond. It would be similar to malpractice insurance, or a "security deposit". For example, tobacco companies would put up a bond that would cover medical expenses in the event they are sued because some smoker died of lung cancer, and oil companies would have a bond to cover spills, etc.

7) Educate. Every school in America, beginning with Grade 1, should have mandatory classes on health and nutrition.

8) Put Physical Education back into every school - and devise ways to make exercise fun.

It would be wrong to take choices away from a free people, as Bloomberg tries to do in New York City. It is also ineffective. It is far better to allow the choices, but to make less healthy choices more expensive and use those funds to make more healthy choices less expensive. Many people make choices according to cost.

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