A Better Choice: Patient-Centered Reform

Mackinac Center Joins 32 State Think Tanks Recommending Patient-Centered Health Care Reforms

As members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee moved to approve Senator Max Baucus's health care reform bill, the Mackinac Center joined 33 state-based public policy groups in proposing a plan for "patient-centered health reform" that would improve health insurance access and options without creating an entirely new-and expensive-government bureaucracy. (View plan and signatories here.)

Although many of these ideas aren't new, this is the first time public policy leaders from across the country have come together to propose a unified alternative plan to what has been termed "ObamaCare."

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The premise of patient-centered health reform is simple: It empowers people to make their own health care decisions.

For example, patient-centered reform would allow individuals to take the tax deduction employers currently get. This means you -- not your employer -- will own your health insurance policy.

Another element of the reform is permitting individuals and businesses to buy health insurance policies across state lines.

Perhaps the biggest reform suggested by the think tank leaders deals with the basic way that Medicaid currently works. Where beneficiaries are now stuck in a bureaucratic system with few options, a patient-centered health reform for Medicaid would allow them to use their medical aid in a way they choose through a simple voucher system. Medicaid enrollees could then take their vouchers to the doctor of their choice, therefore improving access and quality, and allowing them to see-for the first time-just how much their health care costs.

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study, as reported in the Washington Examiner, calculates the Baucus Bill would increase the cost of health insurance for the average American family to $21,300 by 2016. Without the law, it would rise only to $18,400 from its current $12,300.

Regardless of the talking points of its supporters, government-centric health care would put a higher cost burden on nearly everyone.

While many have aired skepticism at plans to expand government's role in health insurance, few have provided concrete alternatives. A patient-centered health care approach would address the health concerns of Americans by giving them individual control over their health decisions.