There have been numerous echoes reverberating throughout the land screeching that conservatives have never offered any alternatives to Obama Care or other forms of Federal Government Provided Health Programs. I can only assume that these people have not been listening as there have been a number of such proposals proffered through the years. Probably the one most often getting first mention calls for Health Assurance Savings Accounts. This is an interesting proposal as it is transportable because the individual owns the account, not the employer, the government, the union, or any other third party. The way this plan is supposed to work is each individual puts aside a health savings account with any bank which will earn interest the minimal rate of a normal savings account and as high as the best CD savings account. This choice will be left up to the banks which offer such a plan and the competition is likely to end up having these accounts favor a higher return on deposits. There have been challenging problems pointed out in this plan which I will offer some ideas that might address these presumed deficiencies in Health Assurance Savings Accounts.
The primary challenge to this idea is how in the world is somebody to come up with the initial monies necessary for such an account. This is especially true if the required amount is sufficient to cover at a minimum a week of hospital care which can be very expensive. The way to address this we can take some apparent truths into account such as younger people will usually not require prolonged hospital care and as one ages that becomes a more likely scenario. In recognizing this one would require the Health Assurance Account to be set up as a progressing level account. For people under twenty-five it might simply require the Health Assurance Account contain $5,000.00; up to age forty it would require 20,000.00; up to age fifty it would require 50,000.00; up to age seventy it would require 100,000.00; and over seventy it would require 250,000.00. Banks could set up these accounts when a person is born or any time before reaching an age requiring insurance in order to assist individuals in putting aside the necessary initial account. Should a person not have the initial amount put aside for such an account upon reaching the age where they were no longer covered by their parents’ Health Assurance Account, banks or alternate insurance providers could have a program where they guarantee that such funds would be made available up to the required amount by law and sell that as an insurance account in order to assure all had such coverage.
People could, if they so desired, purchase additional health insurance in an open health insurance market where plans of any sort from the previous mentioned mandated minimal coverage to supplementary coverage or major medical or whatever they can imagine and sell. When people use the money in their Health Assurance Account, they would be allowed a preset period of time commensurate to the amount used to repay the account and return it to the required level. Where such a system might not cover every person completely in all cases, it would suffice in covering the majority of people and these Health Assurance Accounts would also remain owned by the people themselves and not to any insurance company or government agency. This would allow these funds to be a part of each individual’s estate making it available to be passed on in their will upon their passing. Most people would very likely have additional health insurance and there might even be allowances for keeping lower amounts in one’s Health Assurance Account with proof of insurance coverage. Since people could always just have solely a Health Assurance Account. Additional insurance prices would very likely become more competitive, even those for covering the people who needed the mandatory insurance guaranteeing to cover their legal requirements. By taking out a major medical or joining health maintenance or other health providing group, people could keep their health costs sufficiently low to pay for them out of pocket. Some health costs might even fall to a point where they would become readily affordable, especially when compared to current health care costs. This would occur due to people having to use their own funds for their health care, pricing their care to find the best coverage for what they would have to spend. For other cases where people could not afford their health costs or even to have a Health Assurance Account, these cases should be left for charitable institutions, religious organizations, relatives or other private means for their care. The most important item is to take all health care costs and remove as much as possible from being under government, employer, union or any other than individual coverage giving total control back to the individual to control costs and expenditures.
There will be those who will ask why employers, unions, or other groups or organizations should be excluded from providing health insurance. Simply put, they would not be prevented, simply made less likely to be depended upon by the majority. Further, if these other sources for one’s insurance coverage were to continue to cover such accounts, they would be able to avail themselves of simply keeping a collective Health Assurance Account which would contain the total amount required for all of their covered individuals. People might even decide to join into groups where their Health Assurance Accounts were pooled into one larger account in order to receive a better rate of return on their deposit which would benefit everybody in the group account. The number of opportunities such a system would make available would be another of the plan’s advantages. And, of course, people could still opt to have health insurance to cover all their health costs in lieu of a Health Assurance Account, but doing so would actually be robbing themselves of any interest from having their own personal or group Health Assurance Account and simply giving such to their insurer. So, this is one alternative and a simple and effective alternative.
There is even a conservative alternative answer to having government provided health care or health insurance. This alternative depends upon separating health care costs between those which people could most likely be able to afford on their own and those which would be outside the capability for most people to cover comfortably by themselves. The first item which has to be recognized and admitted as the real truth is that nobody in the United States is denied receiving health care whether they have insurance or not or whether they can pay for it or are absolutely destitute. By Federal Law, any hospital which receives any federal funding, and which one does not, they must receive, admit and treat anybody who comes in their door. This simple requirement on hospitals is most often taken care of through the use of clinics which they staff with interns and also a place they use to train new staff for positions as assistants or technicians positions. These clinics are run at a loss by hospitals but are compensated for by allowing these losses to be written off on their taxes.
The main problem for most people comes when they face a prolonged hospital stay or encounter a major health problem requiring surgery or other expensive treatment. These sorts of cases used to be covered by an insurance called major medical, something that joined the dodo bird with modern insurance methods where employers provide complete and total insurance coverage. Way back when major medical insurance actually was common, most other medical necessities were paid by the consumer and were provided by what has become an anachronism today, a doctor who lived in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons such doctors no longer exist is due to the same people who are now claiming they must ride to tour rescue, the Federal Government. The very programs the Federal Government is planning to expand in order to now provide affordable medical coverage are the reason that the local doctor disappeared and now a single visit to a doctor can easily run into the hundreds of dollars. Well, I admit that the government along with a combination of lawyers and malpractice insurance, which is written and sold by insurance company lawyers, and other modern influences and demands have forever changed how we receive our health care and destroyed any possibility of returning to the simpler ways and times. If we could get back to where most regular medical treatment did not require doctor’s offices to fill in multiple forms for insurance companies and the government which has driven the family doctor to extinction, then people might be able to purchase major medical insurance while being able to afford regular care. The problem is that whenever anybody suggests this alternative they are immediately reminded that medical expenses have risen through the roof and are no longer affordable even to the well off. But is that really true?
Let me apologize for the next phrase I am going to use. Back in the day, a trip to the friendly neighborhood doctor charged $25.00 for a regular office visit. When some friends and I tried to surf on the hood of an Oldsmobile and one of us, honestly, it was not myself, wiped out and broke his forearm, we went the whole block and a half, with him making a sound very like whimpering, and she diagnosed a clean and simple break that she set with a cast. The total charge she gave us was $40.00 which we all put in seven dollars and let her keep the extra $2.00 if she would not reveal how our friend broke his arm. Our neighborhood doctor was a lady of great tact as well as affordable. Of course she worked from the basement of her house and did all her own paperwork and even answered her own phone and kept her own schedule. Today, a doctor needs a support staff of a minimum of two specialists just to complete the forms for the government and insurance companies which I think might actually make visits more expensive. Also, as long as you’re going to need two specialists in forms, you may as well hire a receptionist to answer phones and keep the schedule and gather a couple more doctors in order to afford these extras, and then rent a building which is not in the neighborhood. Thus, say good-bye to your neighborhood doctor. The real difference comes when you receive your bill that now includes the costs for two form specialists, a receptionist, the office rent, the retained lawyer ( nobody ever would have sued your neighborhood doctor), and countless insurances to cover the office, equipment, operability of the equipment (service contract), unemployment insurance, taxes and related costs for each employee, and even health insurance for their employees among other such expenses which were completely foreign to my neighborhood doctor back when. That is what took the original $25.00 doctor bill for a routine visit and produced, with a slight assist from inflation, the current going rate of anywhere from $50.00 to over $1,000.00 for specialists, and that excludes major cities where the prices may be even more astronomical.
Maybe the talking heads and government have a point; perhaps we are unable to afford what is required for our own medical care. They ought to know as it is they, along with all of the sundry additional added requirements, who have made it so that health care has become an industry provided by health conglomerates where the personal care of the caring neighborhood doctor has been replaced by revolving caregivers as staffing changes take place in your health maintenance provider or when your insurance changes when you change employments. Yes, the United States remains at the top of the list of countries in the level of health care, but it has slowly become less and less personal and more regimented. Once the Federal Government takes full control of almost everybody’s health care, personal relations with your doctor will have died at the end of a slow and painful process. The one thing that matters most is that even if the Republicans take a sixty seat majority in the Senate and retain control of the House of Representatives and manage to also win the White House, we will not see an actual and complete repeal of Obama Care. What we are guaranteed is the Romney Adjusted, Repealed and Replaced Version Two of Obama Care. Republican Candidate Romney (I will not parse his candidate status with “presumptive” as that would provide a minimal amount of hope for somebody else) stated exactly his intention right there on the front of his podium when he announced his intent to address Obama Care as the first item on his agenda should he be elected. His mouth said “Repeal” but his podium added “Replace”. The honest truth is if any conservatives really aim to repeal Obama Care and return to private insurers or whatever we had before any part of Obama Care was started to be implemented, then we need a lot more than what the current choices offer realistically. Since neither Romney nor Obama will completely repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, they will require whoever it takes, from whatever political party who offers them, to elect at least sixty-seven Senators and two-hundred-ninety Representatives who will abide by a promise to repeal every single item, line, and word of the Affordable Health Care Act as it is likely Romney would veto such and repeal and demand that some items which he finds admirable and desirable from the bill be retained and allowed to stand. Thus, the aim for the conservatives, the Tea Party, the 9/12 Groups, and whoever else desires the complete and total repeal ending Obama Care must join and find what can be called modern holy warriors to vanquish the fire breathing dragon known as Obama Care.
Beyond the Cusp