Josh solves the health care crisis

I solved the economic crisis a while back, now apparently it is up to me to solve the “health care crisis.” 🙂

For a moment, forget all the debates about “single-payer”, “government controlled plans”, yada yada yada. Let’s get back to basics for a moment.

First, because one thing I think we can all agree is a little more important than health care, food, let’s discuss the crisis in the food system.

Wha??? What crisis? Well, there is no crisis. People pay cash for food. Grocery stores and restaurants compete in the open market with low prices and quality goods that are the envy of most other countries on Earth.

Low income people who cannot afford food are provided with vouchers (food stamps) to help them buy food. Because the “food system” is free market and mostly unregulated (except for preventing companies from selling poison and truth-in-labeling laws), it works great.

Our health care system, however, is a system. The government controls and regulates Insurance, continually driving costs upward and upward. For example, just the law prohibiting people from buying insurance across state lines destroys competition and enables insurance companies to gouge New Yorkers (and many others).

And insurance covering every single medical purchase is just sick. Having to do $50 worth of paperwork for a $25 prescription makes things cost triple what they should. Insurance companies make a fat profit every time you get even the most simple health care.

The solution

The smartest thing to do is return to a system where people pay cash for medical care. This cash can be saved before taxes into each person’s personal account, and will accumulate if not used.

This means, year by year, instead of paying an insurance premium you will never get back, if you have normal health care costs, money will pile up and pile up in your account. When you are 65 you should be able to start withdrawing that money without penalty, so it also acts as retirement funds.

For accidents and major illnesses, everyone should buy what’s called “catastrophic” health insurance, which is very cheap and only kicks in when a person needs to spend more than, say, $5,000 in a year.

Obviously, the reason this high limit insurance is so cheap is that people will rarely need it. The insurance companies will only need to process paperwork for people who, because of serious accident or illness, need a lot of care.

Just like food stamps, lower income people should be provided vouchers so they can afford to pay cash for regular health care costs, and also purchase catastrophic insurance just in case.

So no one will be uninsured under this plan. And it will cost a tiny fraction of the $1.5 trillion plan being floated currently by Congress that won’t cover everybody.

And paying cash will bring prices down naturally, as it does with other goods like food, computers, clothing, etc. AND improve quality, since hospitals will have to compete for customers by providing better care at lower prices.

Instead of giving you few choices of doctors and hospitals that “participate in your plan”, you can go anywhere you wish – and if you have a bad experience you won’t go back, just like you wouldn’t go back to a bad restaurant.

Also, there should be changes in regulation to allow alternative health care practitioners to operate and compete with AMA western-type hospitals. While western health care is great for setting broken bones, Chinese and Korean doctors, with knowledge reaching back thousands of years, are often more effective at treating certain ailments.

Now I wish I could take credit for thinking of this plan, but I didn’t – it is called an “HSA” (Health Saving Account) and my wife and I have been on this plan for years and love it. We can pay for massages, acupuncture, dental care, or any other health-related expense out of our pre-tax Medical Savings Accounts. In many years, our cheap high-deductible insurance has never kicked in.

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