The Nation’s healthcare system is in dire need of reform. Specifically, the unsustainable cost of healthcare, access to affordable coverage, and the 46 million uninsured must be addressed. But any changes to our current system must ensure the autonomy of the patient and protect the individual’s ability to control their own healthcare. As this Congress pushes forward with various healthcare plans, the proper solution must eliminate government bureaucracy and stifling regulations that serve only to decrease the quality of care and repress innovation. Instead, the Nation must move towards a patient-centered system that promotes competition.
Increased individual responsibility and heightened competition are at the center of successful healthcare reform. The individual as the key decision maker is a departure from the conventional, and unsuccessful, third-party arrangement that dominates today’s healthcare financing. I advocate for a healthcare market based on competition to drive down prices. This would provide the beneficiary free choice when deciding their healthcare options and would create a market driven by the consumer.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are a high-deductible, low-premium, health plan that afford beneficiaries control over their healthcare plans by allowing them to invest pre-tax dollars into a savings account designated specifically for healthcare. Beneficiaries are encouraged to save for future health expenses and are responsible for their own healthcare which reduces the expansion of healthcare costs and increases efficiency. Most importantly, it places the individual in control of their own healthcare. In the long term, HSAs will lead to less consumption of unnecessary and excess healthcare, reduce fraud, and provide greater care specifically targeted to the beneficiary.
Medicare Advantage provides private health insurance options to seniors enrolled in Medicare. The plan promotes competition amongst insurance companies and is a subset of traditional Medicare. Though vigorously attacked by the Majority and the current administration, Medicare Advantage plans are an excellent alternative to traditional Medicare because they provide greater control to the beneficiary. Moreover, a large amount of seniors in the First District are currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans and constantly contact my office regarding their satisfaction with the plan. This plan offers options to seniors that they would otherwise not receive under traditional Medicare and it is needed to provide the best quality of care.
Lifestyle changes are another component of increased responsibility that must be addressed in the solution for better healthcare. The number of unhealthy Americans has increased severely and this is dramatically fueling the growing cost of healthcare as overweight and obese individuals add hundreds of billions of dollars to healthcare costs each year. To that end, I am working on legislation that would reward those who practice healthy lifestyles.
I am also in favor of increasing health insurance coverage to those that are uninsured or underinsured. However, I do not believe the government should provide universal healthcare. Recent legislation in Congress was touted by the Majority as the solution to increasing coverage to uninsured and underinsured children. In reality, it failed to extend coverage to millions of the neediest children and actually increased coverage for children with wealthier parents.
Though the rhetoric sounds appealing, universal coverage does not adequately answer the problems that our healthcare system is facing and would do nothing more than increase government involvement and reduce the quality of care. Canada provides comprehensive healthcare coverage, yet it does not actually guarantee its citizens access to healthcare services. Instead the government dictates healthcare options and its citizens are burdened with sub-par healthcare and very long waiting lists for procedures. Unlike those nations with universal healthcare, Americans can physically access a physician or hospital at almost any given time for medical treatment and the overall quality of care is better.
The reformation of healthcare must be waged on multiple fronts and cannot be solved instantaneously. Determining and then applying the appropriate changes will be a long process involving all aspects of the healthcare industry. To fully abolish the current problems, renovation must emphasize the individual. When a person makes decisions regarding their own healthcare, they must have full control over that decision.