Curing the health care crisis

by Jason Hagey

Source: Olympia Business Watch

America's health care system had plenty of problems before Obamacare.

The main ones, according to health policy expert John C. Goodman, were cost, quality and access to care.

Unless something is done, all three of those problems will get worse as a result of the Affordable Care Act, predicts Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis and author of the new book "Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis."

That's why Goodman, the keynote speaker at AWB's Health Care Forum Nov. 6 in Seattle, believes that Congress will eventually be forced to make major changes to the law.

If it was up to Goodman, the first change would be to repeal the individual and employer mandates and replace them with generous tax subsidies that people could use to obtain insurance. Then he would give people the freedom and flexibility to adjust their benefits and cost-sharing in order control costs.

Goodman would also:

  • Change what he describes as a "bizarre system" of subsidies -- one that offers radically different subsidies to people at the same income level based on where they obtain their health insurance -- and offer everyone the same relief.
  • Remove the "perverse incentives" for insurers and employers to attract the healthy and avoid the sick by making a high-cost enrollee just as attractive to an insurer as a low-cost enrollee.
  • Likewise, remove the "perverse incentive" for healthy people to remain uninsured and later enroll in a health plan after they get sick.

Goodman, who is known as the father of Health Savings Accounts, believes generally that patients should be given more control over their health care, and that providers should be allowed to compete on things like quality and price rather than government bureaucracies dictating choices to consumers.

"Let the supply side of the market compete," he told Olympia Business Watch.

In addition to Goodman, the forum will feature:

  • Richard Onizuka, CEO of Washington's Health Benefit Exchange. Compared with the troubled rollout of the federal health benefit exchanges, Washington's exchange -- branded Washington Healthplanfinder -- has gone relatively well.
  • Joel White, president of the Council for Affordable Health Care Coverage. White will break down what's fact and what's fiction in the discussion of the Affordable Care Act..
  • A panel discussion about what the Affordable Care Act really means for employers. Panelists include Lindsey Gregerson, wellness manager at Trident Seafoods; Machelle Johnson, director of human resources for Pearson Packaging Systems; and Laura Pierron, senior benefits consultant for Premera Blue Cross.
  • A panel discussion about consumer-driven health care trends with the leaders of Health123, a Seattle-based health care startup.

If you're planning to attend the Health Care Forum and want to ask Onizuka a question about the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, email questions ahead of time to AWB's Anne Haller.

If you haven't registered yet, there is still time -- go online now.

And whether you're attending or not, be sure to follow the discussion Wednesday morning on Twitter at #awbhealth13.