Terry Paulson

Before World War II, people paid their own medical bills, just as they paid their rent or mortgage payment, bought their own food, and paid for whatever else they wanted. After World War II, the government imposed wage and price controls. Companies who wanted to hire and reward good employees were forbidden to offer higher wages, but they could offer health insurance coverage and call it a business expense instead of a wage. Today, as a result, most medical treatments are paid by third parties, employer-funded insurance or government coverage. The people who are paying for the care are not the people who are using it. The current healthcare model isn’t working, and planned changes just put more bureaucracy and costs between your money and the healthcare services you need.

It’s time to put every American citizen on equal footing with access to the same healthcare coverage opportunities. The money invested in any healthcare benefit that currently comes to you as part of your employment would come to you as added income, and you, not the organization, would own your policy and any tax incentives the government provides. Portability would be ensured because you would own and control your healthcare plan and choices.

Insurers competing across state lines for your healthcare insurance business would have to include a Plan A—a basic, no frills major medical coverage to protect you from catastrophic medical problems. After a certain preset, annual deductible amount, all costs would be paid. No insurer would be allowed to deny coverage for this plan and a waiver of premium component would be included to cover citizens who are unemployed for up to a year. Following the Swiss model, the government could provide secondary insurance to minimize the risk insurance companies would have to shoulder covering all Americans.

If you wanted more coverage, you could add supplemental plan that fits you. But buying insurance to cover all your healthcare costs is no more necessary than having your auto insurance pay for normal maintenance.

There’s an added benefit. When it’s your policy and you pay for your own healthcare, you’ll take your healthcare choices more seriously. Sites like www.pricedoc.com will emerge to help you find the best healthcare services for you. That competition will help improve healthcare quality and help control costs. This already works in holding down the cost for cosmetic surgery not covered by insurance.

The government could provide tax incentives to support your major medical plan and a Medical Savings Account, or MSA. The MSA would allow you to make pre-tax contributions to an interest-bearing account. When minor medical needs arise, you could write a check from that account to pay for what is needed. You could go to your favorite doctor or go to a less expensive clinic. If you didn’t use all your funds for the year, you could roll those funds forward for future healthcare needs.

In short, let’s get radical. It’s time to put you back in control of your own healthcare.

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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