Fixing the broken health care system

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Fixing the broken health care system
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The back-breaking costs of healthcare can be a real frustration for entrepreneurs and other small business people.

Insurers have traditionally engaged in the risk management business by charging massive premiums and excluding people with certain conditions. In essence, they only make coverage available to the healthy.

Nearly 50 million people don’t have coverage because of access or affordability issues.

Back in 2000, Clark had heated arguments with the industry’s chief lobbyist Karen Ignagni on the air. During an off-air conversation, he later told her that if the industry doesn’t fix what’s broke, we’re going to wind up with socialized medicine.

Here we are 9 years later and the Obama administration is proposing a government insurance plan for anybody at any age that does not have coverage.

Is it any wonder the insurers are now saying they would consider phasing out high premiums for people with medical problems? Duh.

We have this silly system where you buy subsidized healthcare from your insurer. That was great when you worked for one employer your entire life, but the typical employee today works for 15 or 20 companies on average through the years.

Isn’t it somewhat idiotic to get coverage through your employer when your employer changes so often?

Healthcare should be bought just like auto insurance or homeowner’s insurance. For those who can’t afford it, Clark believes that vouchers are perfectly reasonable.

He’s also long advocated that coverage be standardized. In the consumer champ’s ideal world, there would be just 12 health plans offered to everyone: 3 HMOs, 3 PPOs, 3 HSAs and 3 of the traditional 80/20 splits. Every insurer would have to sell identical plans. That way you could switch to another insurer’s HMO plan No. 2 if your insurer’s HMO plan No. 2 is too costly.

But no matter whether we go the socialized medicine route or we keep it privatized, we still have a nagging problem. We spend roughly twice what any other wealthy industrial nation does per capita.

Our system heavily compensates transactional-based medicine — such as doing a procedure or surgery — instead of the actual act of diagnosing. The only insurer that’s an exception to the rule here is Kaiser Permanente.

The result of our system’s set up is that we frightfully over-treat. Yet we have a shorter lifespan to show for it than other Western nations.

So far Clark hasn’t heard anyone talking about making healthcare truly affordable. And the only way to get there is to end the transaction-based model.

In fact, the penny-pincher would be happy to serve as health care “emperor” for our nation and set up a free enterprise medical system to stave off socialism!

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Clark Howard About the author:
Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. More about Clark
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