CONSUMER EMPOWERMENT VS. RATIONING
April 29, 2009
The United States delivers among the best health care in the world, but the financing of it is a basket case because of high costs, systemic inefficiencies and lack of access to preventive care. Economists and policymakers have attempted to tackle these problems on a macroeconomic level with dismal results. The pathway out of our current health care crisis begins in the medical exam room, itself a micro-economy, where individual decisions between the doctor and patient have far-reaching impacts on quality and cost, says Rep. John Fleming (R-La.).
Because the problems are multi-layered and systemic, our solutions should be comprehensive, common-sense oriented and based on proven economic models. Health care reform that sustainably controls costs and improves outcomes must include the following elements, says Fleming:
- We need to provide access to basic, private insurance coverage for every American.
- Antiquated insurance laws should be reformed so that the young and healthy have strong incentives to opt into private insurance.
- Insurance should become portable and disengaged from the employer, but remain tax deductible.
- To maximize efficiency in the financing of our health care system, providers should be allowed to organize into large networks that can then compete with each other on the basis of quality, price and customer service.
- Moreover, we need to provide meaningful incentives for providers to move into the digital age with electronic health records that will greatly enhance communication with patients and providers to achieve better care.
We now exist at a historical fork in the road in American health care history, explains Fleming. Will we move toward a single-payer, one-size-fits-all government-run health care system that will undoubtedly lead to exploding budgets, poor customer service, two levels of care and rationed care? Or, will we apply the fundamental economic strengths that have made this country so successful and enjoy better health for all, lower costs in the future and one, high-level of care for all?
Source: John Fleming, "Consumer empowerment vs. rationing," The Hill, April 23, 2009.
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