NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 26, 2007

Today the Senate Budget Committee takes up a proposal by Senators Ron Wyden (D - Ore.) and Bob Bennett (R - Utah) to create a universal, market-driven health-care system that all Americans can afford.  The plan avoids further meddling by Washington and creates incentives for every American to receive the same level of care available to members of Congress now.

Here's how their legislation, the Healthy Americans Act (HAA), would work:

  • All Americans, other than those in Medicare or the military, would be given incentives to buy basic private health plans.
  • Individuals at or below the poverty level would receive a subsidy to buy insurance.
  • And states would be given more flexibility (within a federal framework) to give consumers more choices in insurance available on the private market.

These reforms would:

  • Make health insurance portable (Americans could take it to wherever they work) and make access to health care universal and affordable.
  • Give individuals more control over where their health-care dollars go.
  • Break the link between health insurance and employment, freeing employers of a burden they've carried since World War II wage and price controls forced them to offer health benefits instead of pay raises.

Amazingly, creating a more rational health-care market may also save money.

  • The Lewin Group has estimated that the plan will reduce total national health-care spending by nearly $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
  • Even during the early years, it will reduce spending by more than $4 billion per year while expanding coverage.
  • These savings will free up money to help pay for private health-care coverage for those who otherwise could not afford a basic plan.

Source: Ron Wyden and Bob Bennett, "Fixing Health Care," Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2007.

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