Friday, September 21, 2007

My Healthcare Plan

Some years ago I was diagnosed with a very severe sleep disorder. All my organs being stressed and on the verge of heart failure the treatment improved my life. Further reliance on spiritual healing, for which my job was terminated and I lost my health insurance, significantly reversed certain conditions. The medical process was expensive and follow-ups left me with bills beyond my immediate means.

We never received food stamps or government assistance but I did apply to the hospital for debt relief. It was a complicated detailed procedure that required a significant investment of time. I detested the process and shrugged off the lurking feel of entitlement. After all I had to do a lot to get the relief. It covered my future medical expenses for the next six months and issues existed for which I could have gone through testing but I stayed away from the doctor and refused to milk the system. I take supplements and spend up to ten hours a week in a variety of fitness activities for my health and even compete.

We currently cannot afford health insurance. My condition makes me ineligible for personal health insurance and would need to enter an insurance company pool policy at about $700/month to cover only myself. The policy does not allow me to create a Health Savings Account (HSA). People comment there are all sorts of ‘programs’ but I find the whole process corrupting and just hope nothing will come up that we need to look for assistance.

This qualifies me as one of the unfortunates the democrats cry over and say insurance must be provided for. So let me give you the plan I want to see. I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar has already been proposed somewhere and it can be compared to the idea of just giving the Katrina victims mass pay outs rather than running relief programs. I imagine it is like one of those inventions where everyone says I had that idea. Here it goes and I’ll take the democrat approach that the government must force people to have health insurance and spend a lot of money doing it.

It allows everyone to have an HSA. For those of low income the government can provide matching funds up to $50 mth/person (a family of four could receive up to $200/month). For those under the poverty level just put $100/month in their HSA. Half the population could be covered for less than the cost of Hillary’s plan. This would create funds that could be claimed by hospitals for emergency care even if they couldn’t collect the full cost per lack of funds or federal guidelines.

In fact force everyone from the age of 18 to start in the program. If they are not working I’m sure mommy and daddy would be happy to contribute on their behalf and a minimum of $5/month would qualify. The matching fund level would increase with inflation but not for those who rise above a certain income level. Those of the next level of income would be required to purchase catastrophic insurance from the government to keep receiving the locked in matching funds. Ala Mitt Romney these policies would be negotiated by each State.

If we go to a national sales tax this creates incentives to contribute to HSAs and eliminates the need for additional bureaucracy, a new job for the IRS. Income would still need to be monitored and the funds distributed. The IRS could also investigate medical fraud that is costing all of us as well as frivolous lawsuits. Why don’t we see those caught in medical fraud made an example of in the courts and media as Martha Stewart was for lying to investigators where no underlying crime existed?

Why would people buy private insurance? The federal program would allow only an interest bearing account. By dropping the government catastrophic policy, loosing the matching funds, purchasing a private policy would open the account to greater investment tools to achieve a higher gain. In fact the HSA can double as a retirement account with a provision that after reaching a prescribed age, up to 5% of the fund could be removed annually for personal use. With a national sales tax the incentives for retirement accounts become obsolete.

OK that’s a lot of money going to a lot of people who will misuse and abuse the system. The costs would be high and improvements to the system small for years to come, but what happens after 20 years, 30 or 40 years? You will have tens of millions of consumers, if not more, with massive amounts of money under their own control shopping for medical services. It’s a good thing.

And that’s all I ever wanted was an HSA. Why? Because it would be mine.