The First Step Towards Health Care Reform

A majority of Americans said they favor "a national health plan." Yet, with all the talk about Medicare-for-all or Universal Health Care or Cradle to Grave Health Care (or whatever you want to call it) it's no closer to reality then it was 100 year ago. So what's the hang-up?

Everyone knows by now that our health care system is the most expensive and least efficient in the developed world, that our monthly health insurance premiums continue to rise, are unaffordable for most, and that we have a crisis of uninsured and underinsured people in the country. So why haven't we already made a change? What in the world is the hang-up?

I'll tell you what the hang-up is - not enough people have skin in the game! Roughly 56% of Americans get their health insurance from their employer, another 36% get their coverage from Medicare, MediAid, the VA or other public subsidized plans. That means that either  employers or the government subsidizes the cost of  health insurance for a majority of people in this country. Most of our population doesn't "feel" the true cost of their health insurance. They don't feel the pain, so they don't understand what all the fuss is about. Until enough people "feel" the true cost of their health care system, the "status quo" will maintain its death grip on the American populous. Are we then doomed forever to live with a health care system that we "accidentally" invented over 100 years ago? Maybe, but if we want change the first thing we have to do is ......

Eliminate the tax breaks for all group health plans

Our health care industry is riding a gravy train of tax-advantage products – group health insurance premiums are both tax-deductible to the employer and the benefit is tax-free to the employee. These tax-breaks add up to billions in lost revenue to the federal and state governments. Our "subsidize" health care system insulates over half the population from the true cost of their health insurance and allows health insurers to manipulate up the cost of health insurance while catering to run away health care cost!

Step 1: Eliminate the tax breaks on group health insurance.  Force consumers and insurers  to face head-on the reality of the true cost of  health insurance, which should, in theory, put pressure on the escalating cost of health CARE. In addition, with no tax incentive to distribute health insurance, most employer groups would jettison their group health plans, thus creating a transition from an employer group health insurance distribution system to an individual based  health insurance distribution system. The free market would prevail at last.

In an individual based health insurance distribution system, without government subsidies, our health care system would be subject to the same marketplace dynamics of  as any other goods or services. Consumers would determine a value for their health care and demand price/value equivalency as they do with any other consumer product.  A consumer driven health insurance marketplace would determine the true worth of their health care.

But health care is NOT like any other goods or services in our economy. Health care is not susceptible to competition, choice and timing like all other consumer products. The price for health  care doesn't change with increase supply (competition), nor does it change with decrease demand (everyone is healthy). Timing and choice are not an option when it comes to getting health care. The law of supply and demand doesn't apply to heath care, Health care just doesn't work as a capitalistic economy. Our for-profit health care system will never deliver equitable, affordable health care to all American.

It all comes down to basic human values. Do we keep our current health care model and all it's faults. Or do we change the model. If we believe that health care is a necessity of life, fundamental to the health and wellness of our citizens and our democratic way of life; and that as a matter of national security, health care should be a basic right for all citizens; and that our current private for-profit health care system is fundamental incapable of delivering to all Americans health care that is  equitable, affordable, then the next logical step will be Universal Health Care or health care that covers all citizens from "Cradle to Grave."

 

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