Saturday, January 23, 2010

Common Sense Measures To Cut Health Care Cost

By Ron Spangler

With the Democrat Health Care Bill lying int its coffin maybe it is time for Congress to take a simple approach to lowering the cost of health health care in the United States. Some simple measures that could be acted upon and immediately passed come from ordinary people regardless of party affiliation. These are basic common sense measures that will not allow the government take over of health care or add to the cost of health insurance premiums.

Here are some simple measures that come to mind. Passing these in incremental bipartisan steps would allow Congress to take action now and move on to more important issues like reducing government spending, creating tax incentives so business can expand and start hiring again, helping small business entrepreneurs hire or expand, reducing taxes on consumers so they have more to invest or spend, reducing the debt and deficit, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil by allowing more drilling of our own domestic oil.

Reducing Health Care Cost Measures:

Encourage younger people to carry health insurance that is similar to a annuity life insurance policy. A percentage of the premium payed by the insured or the insured person's employer would be set aside and invested into a separate account to draw interest. After a set accumulation period not to exceed five years, the policy holder could have access to a percentage, not to exceed 50%, of the amount accumulated to help pay for out of pocket medical expenses or to cover the cost of any future premium increases. After the accumulation period has been reached the insurance would follow the policy holder throughout life regardless of a change to their employment. After reaching their full retirement age the policy holder would have full access to his account and have the opportunity to use this account to pay the monthly premiums of their policy. This type of policy could not be restricted to one particular age group and must be offered as a single or family option plan. The cost of this type of policy could not exceed the fair market value of other plans made available by insurance companies offering this plan.

Allow insurance companies to compete across state lines.

Ban preexisting condition exclusions in insurance policies.

Ban insurance companies from canceling policy due to catastrophic illness or injury.

Ban hospitals and medical practitioners from charging people with insurance more than they would charge people without insurance.

Reform Anti-Trust Law for insurance companies.

Pass Medical Tort Reform.

Restrict hospitals and medical practitioners from charging patients with insurance more than they have agreed to pay the insurance company. If hospitals or practitioners have entered into an agreement with insurance companies to accept x amount of dollars for services rendered then they should not be allowed to bill the patient for any additional amount the insurance company refuses to pay.

Restrict insurance companies from arbitrarily deciding what the going rate for a particular procedure for a given area should be.

Restrict hospitals and practitioners from charging none medical fees to patients, i. e. administrative fees, professional fees, etc. All non medical charges should be considered as the cost of doing business and should be tax deductible instead of fees passed on to the patient. Processing paperwork, maintenance of a facility, cost for new construction, or additional cost to cover the uninsured should have nothing to do with the actual treatment received by a patient.

These are simple things that can be passed with bi-partisan support and would immediately reduce the cost of medical care and insurance premiums. Hospitals charging $25-$50 for an aspirin or insurance companies arbitrarily deciding the acceptable rate for a particular procedure and then paying only 80% of that rate is ridiculous. Allowing the medical field to charge administrative and professional fees to patients is unethical. Allowing the medical field to overcharge patients and then ruin the patient's credit for not paying anything the insurance company refuses to pay is extortion. Not holding lawyers responsible for frivolous lawsuits and fraudulent claims is criminal.

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