Terry Paulson

Don’t require insurance to pay all health care costs. You don’t use auto insurance to pay for routine maintenance or our home insurance to pay for a paint job or plumbing repair. Health care coverage should be the same. Get coverage for the health care disasters with a deductible you can afford. Pay for the other costs yourself. When it’s your money you’re spending, you find the best deal!

Now, six-out-of-seven of your health care dollars are spent by third parties without any input from you. Choice matters. Milton Friedman used to say, “No one spends other people's money as carefully as he spends his own.” Competition has already worked for elective procedures—for facelifts, breast enhancements, hair grafts—those prices keep coming down because they’re not covered. When something’s free, you waste more. You eat more at an all-you-can-eat buffet than when you pick from a menu!

To help save for those occasional medical bills, all citizens should be encouraged to set aside money in tax free, health saving accounts to be used for medical expenses not covered by insurance. They exist at the federal level and in 48 states. It’s time to add California to that list!

We don’t need doctors for all care. In some states, nurse practitioners can open clinics and provide medical diagnosis and treatment. By 2013, companies like MinuteClinic and RediClinic will be operating over 6,000 retail healthcare clinics inside stores like CVS and Wal-Mart. Such clinics will save you time and money.

To promote prevention, good health habits should pay! In Switzerland, a healthy lifestyle saves you money on premiums. People might care more about their health habits if it resulted in a higher quality of life and lower healthcare costs.

Medications are often the treatment of choice and help us avoid more expensive, invasive treatments. Medications should be covered under major medical plans, but we should avoid price controls. Controls destroy the incentives for creating new drugs. Instead, focus on using generic drugs and avoiding unnecessary medications.

Demand national tort reform and realistic caps to help control frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits that add costs as well as unnecessary tests and procedures to protect those providing care. Institute standardized forms and digitized medical records to cut down administrative costs and increase efficiency, and establish a shared database of health care best practices.

Don’t fall for the illusion of “free” health care where someone else will pay for your care. Demand real reform that gives you control of your own health care and keeps the quality high!

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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