How American Health Care Killed My Father – The Atlantic

I knew someone out there had some good ideas at reform. A Democrat no less. It’s a great read and should be on anyone’s list interested in reform who is interested in solutions to fixing our status quo. The sad part is that no one in power is advocating a solution resembling the author’s, esp. the GOP which should be if they were actually solution oriented. In fact, I’ve thought of many of the same things.

How American Health Care Killed My Father – The Atlantic
(September 2009)
:

“I’m a Democrat, and have long been concerned about America’s lack of a health safety net. But based on my own work experience, I also believe that unless we fix the problems at the foundation of our health system—largely problems of incentives—our reforms won’t do much good, and may do harm. To achieve maximum coverage at acceptable cost with acceptable quality, health care will need to become subject to the same forces that have boosted efficiency and value throughout the economy. We will need to reduce, rather than expand, the role of insurance; focus the government’s role exclusively on things that only government can do (protect the poor, cover us against true catastrophe, enforce safety standards, and ensure provider competition); overcome our addiction to Ponzi-scheme financing, hidden subsidies, manipulated prices, and undisclosed results; and rely more on ourselves, the consumers, as the ultimate guarantors of good service, reasonable prices, and sensible trade-offs between health-care spending and spending on all the other good things money can buy…
First, we should replace our current web of employer- and government-based insurance with a single program of catastrophic insurance open to all Americans—indeed, all Americans should be required to buy it—with fixed premiums based solely on age. This program would be best run as a single national pool, without underwriting for specific risk factors, and would ultimately replace Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. All Americans would be insured against catastrophic illness, throughout their lives…
Every American should be required to maintain an HSA, and contribute a minimum percentage of post-tax income, subject to a floor and a cap in total dollar contributions. The income percentage required should rise over a working life, as wages and wealth typically do…
Americans should be able to borrow against their future contributions to their HSA to cover major health needs; the government could lend directly, or provide guidelines for private lending. Catastrophic coverage should apply with no deductible for young people, but as people age and save, they should pay a steadily increasing deductible from their HSA, unless the HSA has been exhausted. As a result, much end-of-life care would be paid through savings…
For lower-income Americans who can’t fund all of their catastrophic premiums or minimum HSA contributions, the government should fill the gap—in some cases, providing all the funding…
Some experts worry that requiring people to pay directly for routine care would cause some to put off regular checkups. So here’s a solution: the government could provide vouchers to all Americans for a free checkup every two years…
Many experts believe that the U.S. would get better health outcomes at lower cost if payment to providers were structured around the management of health or whole episodes of care, instead of through piecemeal fees… For simplicity and predictability, many people will prefer to pay a fixed monthly or annual fee for primary or chronic care, and providers will move to serve that demand…
Many consumers would be able to make many decisions, unaided, in such a system. But we’d also probably see the rise of health-care agents—paid by, and responsible to, the consumer—to help choose providers and to act as advocates during long and complex care episodes…”

(Via The Atlantic.)

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