The healthcare debate is getting real old. With the Affordable Care Act there was one-size fits all plans that increased costs and therefore forced you to purchase. Now comes the American Health Care Act which calls for much the same; no penalty for not having insurance but one for getting insurance after a lapse of a year, and the same reliance of Medicaid to pick up those who would otherwise fall through the cracks. There is a simple system many are already supporting. That’s right, a no holds-barred, universal, single-payer system.
Why not? It’s already being done. And no, I’m not talking about Canada or the European countries implementing such a plan. I’m talking about a private company like Medi-Share. Medi-Share is using a universal coverage model in which all members share each other’s medical bills – see how they got the name now? This is the idea behind the individual mandate and universal healthcare in general; everyone pays in so no one goes uncovered. I think this model is perfect and should be implemented on as large a scale as possible. And I’m only half lying.
Y’see, I don’t qualify for Medi-Share. Aside from being private, it is also a Christian organization demanding its members follow a traditional Christian path and lead a healthy, law-abiding lifestyle. This means you are not eligible if you use tobacco or illegal drugs, abuse legal drugs (i.e. alcohol), have sex outside of wedlock, etc. Let’s be honest, many if not most of today’s citizenry don’t meet all those stipulations. I guess we’ll need another way to get healthcare care coverage.
Cue government. It’s clear we can’t tax our way to afford single-payer, so we’ll have to cut costs by decreasing the amount of people who require care. According to the CDC, the leading cause of death in the US is cardiac disease beating out cancer by nearly 25,000 deaths. In the top ten causes of death, six are or can be linked to lack of individual responsibility, i.e. smoking or diet. This includes heart disease, oral and lung cancers, chronic lower respiratory diseases, ischemic stroke, type II diabetes, and suicide. Suicide is already illegal so we’re good there, but if everyone is paying for everyone else’s health care, let’s save money by keeping people from hurting themselves.
We can all agree smoking is bad and is linked to pretty much every disease that kills you so let’s make that illegal. Many other deadly diseases are related to diet, so let’s ensure everyone is eating a healthy diet. States have passed laws forcing restaurants to put calories on menus but clearly that is not helping so additional measures will need to be added. Maybe regulating the size of soda you can get, or the amount of salt in a meal. Maybe we should just take it another step further and ban junk food; no one gets fat eating vegetables, so let’s force people to eat them.
Ok, so we’ve gotten rid of smoking and bad foods but that’s still not enough. You can’t just eat healthy, you gotta live healthy; get up and play 60 minutes a day! So we’ll need to make everyone stay on a healthy exercise regimen. We’d have to make sure everyone did it too, so there’d have to be monitoring and just like that we’re in 1984 and fighting to touch our toes as Big Brother cheers us on.
It may seem farfetched for these regulations to be instated however, many of them already have been attempted or passed. In New York large sodas were on the chopping block, caloric and sodium labels have passed now, California has even increased the smoking age to 21. What’s to stop us from going further with restrictions on lifestyle choices; if people are leading more healthy lives, living longer, and feeling better why should we stop the government from forcing health upon us? Well, because I love burgers and greasy fries, small milkshakes served in gallon jugs, I want to sit on my butt if I choose, and because I want a Big Gulp God-dammit!
You cannot force people to be healthy. We’ve known cigarettes are bad for you since the 1960’s yet people still smoke. After the government (wrongly) said fats were bad for you they were still making deep-fried butter down south. There is no single greater representation of freedom than cooking fat in more fat and eating it on a stick. And if you want to leave this world in a round casket who am I to say no? I will say no however, to paying your medical bills after your poor life choices clog an artery for the third time.
Now that I’ve blown my cover and you realize I am not in favor of a government-run single-payer system, I’ll share a better option.
The greatest asset to your health, your primary healthcare provider, is you. Your lifestyle and preventative measures can keep you out of most health scares, and a simple annual physical can give you the jump on many other ailments. We need to encourage these things and give people the freedom to choose what they want.
Before all the hubbub of Trumpcare, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) proposed four pages (compared to 2,700 in the ACA) of legislation that would lead to a world of positive change for healthcare. In it there was a focus on Health Savings Accounts. An HSA is exactly what it sounds like, an account which you can place funds for the purpose of healthcare. I know what you’re thinking; don’t you put funds in insurance companies so they pay for your healthcare? Yes, you’re right, but an HSA gives you more power. In Paul’s bill, each taxpayer has the option of receiving a tax credit for up to $5,000 for an HSA; this means you are credited up to $5,000 towards your owed taxes. This also maintains anything over the $5,000 limit is tax preferred, meaning it won’t count as income.
Why is this good to have along with insurance? Aside from tax breaks, it is money you get to invest in your health; in other words, preventative care. HSA funds would be allowed to be spent on direct practice services, prescription and OTC drugs, and certain exercise equipment and programs. What’s more, if you are using the HSA tax credit it will be easier for you to afford an insurance plan with a higher deductible to lower your annual premium – you’re getting fit and your wallet’s getting fat. The plan also allows for insurers to cross state lines and for people and small businesses to band together to purchase insurance across state lines. This increases competition and strengthens the demand, giving people a greater ability to negotiate for cheaper premiums.
Unlike our president I am aware health coverage is a very complex issue and I don’t believe TNT in the form of the ACA was the best fix. I certainly disagree with Bernie Sanders and other socialists who point to a failed system plagued by government restrictions and say the solution is more government. For instance, liberals are attacking Republicans for trying to prevent everyone from having maternal care in their plans. Why does my dear old mom require that service? Why do young single males? Because that’s how socialized medicine works.
Maybe you are for single-payer, maybe you’re for freedom, but regardless of your views, there is a free market option be it bill-sharing as with Medi-Share, or increasing competition and spending power in the Paul plan. There is no reason to settle for bad plans and rising premiums, the legacy of the ACA.