A Real Patient Bill of Rights

Washington, D.C. - While the President's health care commission has released a Consumers' Bill of Rights that could lead to massive regulation and government control over health insurance, a group of panelists today said the solution is more choice, not more regulation.

"Government believes mandates are needed to protect peoples' rights," said Mark Litow, a principal with the actuarial firm Milliman and Robertson, "but do they really help the American consumer, or do they do more harm than good?"

Dr. John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis said the use of more government control in order to allow patients greater choice never works. In fact it only creates more restrictions.

"Managed care restricts patient choices, but it also has the potential to lower costs. One solution is to create patient protection accounts from which people could pay for out of network doctor visits and other services," he said.

Charles Kahn III, chief operating officer for the Health Insurance Association of America, addressed the elements of the Patients' Bill of Rights and pointed out that insurers are already acting in most instances. As a result, there is very little need for new regulations.

"A better solution would be to give people more choice so that if they are dissatisfied with their employer-provided insurance, they could find an alternative insurer," said Merrill Matthews, vice president - domestic policy for the NCPA. "Moreover, the new MSA provision discussed by Dr. Goodman would give patients the ability to purchase care denied them by their HMO."

Panelists offered several solutions for allowing patients more freedom of choice, including:

  • Patient Protection Accounts
  • Personal and portable health insurance plans
  • Health care tax credits for workers

"Consumers are not in control because someone else controls the purse strings," said Grace-Marie Arnett, president of the Galen Insitute. "Until consumers have alternatives that allow them to control the money to purchase health services and health insurance, they will continue to be frustrated by their lack of control and limitations on choice."