Private health insurance is best left to the individual to decide
Many people have been discussing how our health insurance system was a mess before the Affordable Health Care Act, and many have been even more upset since the ACA was signed into law in March 2010. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not unbiased. I believe that government has no place in the insurance industry, or any industry, for that matter.
By way of history, the ACA, modeled on a plan adopted by Mitt Romney while he was Governor in Massachusetts, was written by insurance company lobbyists. While the obviousness of the conflict of interest does not need to be harped upon, what does is the fact that our politicians rubber stamped it, to a point, with a very notable: “But we have to pass this bill so that you can find out what is in it.” —Nancy Pelosi.
The advertised goal of the ACA was that it would insure the uninsured. It did not succeed in this goal, if, in fact, that was ever going to be possible. In the meantime, those who could not afford actual health insurance through this system but did not qualify for tax payer funded health insurance would be forced to pay $2000 per year if they remained uninsured.
Recently, there was an op-ed written suggesting that one possible solution to be proposed was horrible, and those suggesting it were insensitive to the plight of the working poor. This solution was to improve upon the Health Savings Account. The way things stand, the standard HSA was designed in such a way that people could not keep more than $500 in it from one year to another. This is really damaging to the working poor, and one of the reasons has to do with what a 6% deduction from pre-tax income looks like. To those with 401K’s, please bear with me as I type in something already known. A 6% deduction from pre-tax income translates to nothing from the net pay check. If these accounts were not subjected to “use it or lose it” types of regulation, the “working poor,” in essence, could sock away a sizable sum of money to be used for their health care. Bear in mind, people like those described in this paragraph, who write op-eds trashing solutions fail in many aspects, but the first failure involves allowing the failure that is government run health insurance to exist without any sort of metrics.
Measurement of cause and effict would easily find problems but without it, officials and opinion makers continue to allow these problems to exist without any type of accountability. It operates with zero deference to all people living within the borders of our nation. Similarly, the policies allow for zero reporting regarding the failures of the ACA, because if the government was to say something, then the politicians in Washington DC would actually have to do something meaningful.
Again, the HSA has been demonized as being terrible for the “working poor.” However, imagine if the government regulations stating “use it or lose it” were altered to say something like “preparation for when someone needs the money for medical expenses.” Imagine if “the working poor” did not lose every penny over $500 in those years when he/she did not need to spend on healthcare expenses.
Couple that with the concept that there needs to be competition and accountability within the free market system of health care. Couple that with health insurance competition whereby those insurance companies were no longer able to have a monopoly on service with zero accountability. Those small changes would create an atmosphere whereby the consumer / customer could easily change his / her insurance carrier thereby forcing them to improve services or lose their customer base.
The goverment has taken accountibility through metrics out of the picture. There is only one possible solution here and it is not the bait and switch model of “repeal and replace,” healthcare and insurance is for the individual to decide without the heavy hand of government regulations which disrupt our freedom of choice. If actual freedom is implemented, no doubt, the people will prosper.