For probably the first time, I actually think we have a politician who not only understands the relationship between healthcare and health insurance but is actually aware of how to begin the process of bringing the consumer back into the decision process. Governor Heineman has proposed an idea that I personally think is one of the best I have seen. It involves the purchase of a high deductible HSA eligible health insurance plan and a funding of the HSA account by the federal government. Because it is actually using common sense solutions, I am sure that HHS will not allow it. In fact, I am sure that they will not even allow the State to implement the high deductible plan as its benchmark. There is somehow a belief that unless you keep the deductible low, people will go bankrupt. The general public has been brainwashed to believe that co pays are the cheapest way to obtain healthcare. Unfortunately, I have seen time and time again where a serious illness wipes out a family’s wealth because of these insignificant co pays. Since they are unlimited, a serious illness that requires seeing numerous specialists and a variety of top tier drugs can double the expected out of pocket for many families. By use of a HSA eligible plan, those costs are capped and a family can rest assured that their savings will not be devastated by a serious illness. The Governor understands this single issue better than anyone. By asking the federal government to fund money into the HSA accounts, they are allowing the insured to be involved in the purchase of their healthcare. What an idea, allow people to make buying decisions that are best for them. In addition, the federal subsidies would be less since they are based on the amount of premium that the insured would pay. This savings would be used to fund the HSA accounts that the insured could use for their care. If the insured didn’t use the money, it would grow and could be used in the future to offset medical expenses. This would allow a healthy person to take on additional risk (higher deductible, higher out of pocket) in future years thereby lowering premiums. On the other hand, an unhealthy person would know the exact limits of expenses they would incur in a calendar year.
With all the logic that this plan has, I am sure there will be those who will disagree with it. They will state that individuals are not educated enough to make good choices with their healthcare. They will argue that it is too complicated for the average person to understand and the industry will take advantage of these individuals. Well, I want to take that same argument with food stamps. Why do we allow people to get food stamps rather than just providing them with food staples? Each month the federal government sends a dollar amount to each recipient and allows them to decide how to spend the allotment. But time and time again, we see the evil food industry convince these individuals to spend those allocations on unhealthy, easy to make, and highly advertised items. If we just controlled them like is being suggested for healthcare, they could get good quality, healthy, and low cost alternatives to these same individuals. So why doesn’t the federal government do this? Because, it would be unfair to these low income individuals to not be able to purchase food that they like. It would be unfair to not allow them to purchase a rib eye, filet, a bag of chips, or candy if they desire to do so.
So, if we are willing to allow people to make decisions on how to spend food stamps, why don’t we allow them on how to spend healthcare dollars? Why not provide “healthcare stamps” or “HSA stamps” for those individuals that use the exchange? This would give individuals the opportunity to spend for their care in the way they feel would best benefit them. It makes so much sense that I am sure HHS will definitely not allow it. That is probably because there are many in Government today that feel they are much smarter and better at making these decisions than the individual. They don’t trust the general public to make good decisions when it comes to such complicated issues such as how to spend money. Well personally, I don’t trust the Government to spend money in the most efficient manner as can be seen with the trillions of debt that we have incurred. Let’s bring spending back to individuals and out of the hands of Government.