Free markets Will save healthcare
The ultimate answer for curing our mostly dysfunctional healthcare markets is to get the patient in control instead of third parties, which primarily are the government, large insurers and, in some cases, large employers. In a genuine free market the customer is king, and if the supplier/business doesn’t attract new buyers and satisfy existing ones, it will go broke. Productivity is the norm, with prices going down.
But not with healthcare. A hospital’s revenue depends on the deals it strikes with insurers and on not upsetting Medicare and Medicaid.
This is just beginning to change, now that more businesses are moving to highdeductible healthcare insurance plans and the Obamacare exchanges have deductibles that make the private companies’ look like Bernie Sanders giveaways. People’s outof-pocket medical expenses now come to more than $352 billion a year, not far behind what people spend on the travel industry, which is expected to reach $370 billion in 2018. A rapidly growing consumer market in healthcare is forming. Millions are becoming price-conscious in a way that hasn’t been seen within memory.
Health savings accounts (HSAS) have been around for a decade and a half, with more than 22 million users. The money in each account belongs to the consumer. If you save money by using a generic drug instead of one that’s still “on patent,” the money saved is yours, not your employer’s or the government’s. However, HSAS are burdened with unnecessary restrictions that hobble their wider use.
• Make HSAS available to anyone. Currently, you can’t get an HSA unless you have an insurance policy that offers them, and most still don’t. You should be able to set up an HSA, regardless of the plan you have—or even if you have no plan.
• HSAS should also be available to anyone on Medicare or Medicaid. In fact, Uncle Sam should offer a Medicare choice, with the feds kicking in, say, $10,000 annually per beneficiary, with full (or nearly full) catastrophic coverage above that. Such a plan would sharply curb the gross amount of overtesting that occurs with the elderly.
• Sharply raise—or simply remove—the limits on HSA contributions. These have a ceiling of $3,450 for individuals and $6,900 for family plans.
• Treat the limits on deductibles for company plans in a similar manner. • Curtail the restrictions on how HSA monies can be spent. You should be able to tap your account for over-the-counter medications and wellness programs.