We cannot move from the current health care system to an ideal system overnight. We can move in the right direction, however, by adopting policies designed to solve immediate problems in ways that also help us attain the long-run goal. This agenda is designed to address five immediate problems:
The current system of paying for health care is contributing to rising health care costs.
Too many Americans are choosing not to purchase catastrophic health insurance for themselves and their families.
Too many Americans who have health insurance have been effectively denied the opportunity to choose a less costly type of insurance policy or a policy which is better suited to individual and family needs.
Too many Americans are failing to save for health care expenses they are almost certain to incur during the years of their retirement. .
There is increasing danger that we are moving toward a system of health care rationing under which individuals are denied the opportunity to purchase more (or better) health care without suffering costly penalties.
These five problems primarily are caused by unwise policies adopted by the federal government and by state governments. This agenda is designed to create new incentives under which people will find it in their self-interest to solve these problems through individual initiative and choice. Accordingly, the provisions of this agenda would expand the range of choices open to people – giving them greater opportunity to purchase health insurance tailored to their own needs, to control how their health insurance dollars are spent, and to save for medical expenses which they will incur during the years of their retirement. Specifically, this agenda would:
Give individuals greater opportunity to purchase no-frills catastrophic insurance for a reasonable price.
Give individuals greater opportunity to choose among competing health insurance plans and to select the type of coverage best suited for individual and family needs.
Give individuals the opportunity to choose between group health insurance (provided by an employer) and individual or family policies – without income tax penalties.
Give individuals the opportunity to choose between self-insurance and third-party insurance for small medical bills – without income tax penalties.
Give individuals the opportunity to choose health insurance plans with effective cost-control techniques and to realize the financial benefits from these choices – without income tax penalties.
Give individuals the opportunity to build a reserve of savings for future medical expenses, thus allowing them to rely less on third-party insurance and to reduce their annual health insurance premiums.
Give individuals greater opportunity to compare prices in the hospital marketplace and realize the financial benefits of prudent buying practices.
Give people covered by Medicare and Medicaid opportunities to avoid the harmful effects of health care rationing.
Give all participants in the medical marketplace an opportunity to avoid the costly effects of the tort system through voluntary contract and exchange.