Let mar­ket call in­sur­ance’s fu­ture

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Af­ter just seven years it ap­pears we have a health-care cri­sis be­cause the fed­eral gov­ern­ment tried to ma­nip­u­late and take over the health- in­sur­ance in­dus­try — and failed. Now that the Repub­li­cans are at the helm of gov­ern­ment, it is clear they squan­dered the past seven years by not hav­ing an al­ter­na­tive plan.

The great les­son from this is, we should never al­low the gov­ern­ment to be­come in­volved in the first place. Here is what should hap­pen: Medi­care and Med­i­caid should be block-granted to the states. A bill should be passed forc­ing in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to sell across state lines. As­so­ci­a­tions with mem­ber­ships should be al­lowed to pro­vide group in­sur­ance poli­cies to their mem­bers like em­ploy­ers do. Then, while re­view­ing tax law, states should pro­vide that folks can save in health-sav­ings ac­counts tax-free money, which can be used to off-set premium costs and pay for de­ductibles, pre­scrip­tions and of­fice vis­its. Im­ple­ment­ing th­ese pro­vi­sions should spur com­pe­ti­tion among in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, which will in turn re­duce costs and pro­vide poli­cies more in line with peo­ple’s needs.

Like most group plans, th­ese will re­solve the pro­vi­sion of per­sist­ing con­di­tions. The key here is that in­di­vid­ual choice and free­dom is pre­served and cap­i­tal­ism is al­lowed to work. Then they need to ad­dress the other side of the coin: the re­duc­tion in costs of health ser­vices, which can be achieved by re­quir­ing hos­pi­tals, doc­tors, clin­ics and phar­ma­cies to post the nor­mal costs of the ser­vices they pro­vide. In this way con­sumers will be able to make in­formed choices and take ad­di­tional con­trol of their health-care ex­penses. This will also cre­ate com­pe­ti­tion and bring down costs.

STEPHEN BALL Lan­caster, Ohio

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