Democratic presidential primary candidates again devoted much of their speaking time to discussing their healthcare reform plans at their Oct. 15 debate. That’s no surprise. The status quo is failing small businesses, employees, and their families. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently reported that the average family health care plan costs more than $20,000 a year, a 54 percent increase since 2009.
Yet, the “Medicare-for-all” cure pitched by Democrats is worse than the disease. Socializing the health care system would further disrupt the doctor and patient relationship, which has eroded over the years with the increased control of bureaucrats, lobbyists, and politicians.
For instance, electronic health record regulations under Obamacare have increased the paperwork requirements facing doctors, who now spend about half of their time on such busywork. This has put a literal and figurative screen between them and patients. Medicare-for-all would put D.C. bureaucrats in the exam room, further fracturing the doctor and patient relationship.
There’s a better solution to America’s broken health care system: the new “Healthcare for You” framework developed by the Job Creators Network Foundation and several patient advocacy groups. It is the result of extensive market research, drawing on the input of more than 25,000 patients, doctors, and health care professionals. It is health reform that Americans want, not a backroom plan that politicians tell them they want.
And we clearly heard that Americans want to restore the doctor and patient relationship. Healthcare for You achieves this by eliminating many regulations on paperwork, insurance, and care delivery preventing doctors from acting in the best interests of their patients.
Importantly, this framework still requires insurers to cover patients with preexisting conditions. Yet it defrays these costs by moving the sickest people to their own risk pools.
Healthcare for You would reduce health care costs through market processes such as transparent prices, choice, and cutting out middlemen.
It would expand personal health management accounts, also known as health savings accounts. These accounts give patients control over their health care dollars. They extend the tax benefits currently enjoyed by employers to employees, allowing for portability and removing the lock between employment and insurance. President Trump recently signed an executive order to expand these accounts after Obamacare had shrunk them, but a longer-lasting legislative solution is needed.
Expanding personal health management accounts would increase the use of direct medical care, which is known as direct primary care for family doctor needs, because it would empower patients to make their own health care decisions. Under this model, no third-party payers who drive up costs and limit choice are needed.
Direct medical care allows patients and employers to contract directly with providers, often at a price much lower than the rate negotiated by insurers. While traditional providers tend to require several administrators for every doctor, direct medical care providers only require a couple, significantly reducing costs.
Together, these reforms would repair and restore the health care market, spurring price shopping that would lower prices as it does in every other economic sector.
In contrast, Medicare-for-all would attempt to control costs by rationing care, eliminating profits, and slashing doctor reimbursement rates. History has repeatedly proven that this top-down approach cannot match the price and quality produced by the bottom-up method that characterizes Healthcare for You.
Medicare-for-all proponents are fond of describing the health care status quo as a market-based system. But in reality, cronyism is the accurate description. The Healthcare for You framework pulls back the curtain to reveal the secretly negotiated deals, kickbacks, and exclusive contracts that artificially increase the cost of care.
Eliminating these middlemen is especially important for lowering prescription drug costs, which are inflated by payouts to third-party gatekeepers known as pharmacy benefit managers. These hundreds of billions of dollars worth of PBM rebates make up nearly one-third of prescription drug costs. They are responsible for nearly all the increase in list drug prices in recent years.
Healthcare for You would lower prices, increase choice, and restore the doctor and patient relationship. It is an American alternative to the socialist Medicare-for-all and the cronyist status quo. The majority of Americans who view health care as their biggest election issue should support it.
Elaine Parker is the President of the Job Creators Network Foundation.