I am doubtful that Obamacare will be repealed in the next two years but I am slightly optimistic that it can undergo some significant improvements in controlling health care cost growth. Here are two key issues that I think we can get bipartisan support on.
- Embrace a a wider range of cost reduction strategies including HRA and HSA.
- Increase the transparency and honesty of how the Obamacare health system is supposed to reduce health care costs.
Although Democrats loath any health care other than universal health care it is probably an impossible task to convince the American people that universal health care will reduce health care costs. Since the experiments at controlling health care costs using universal health care failed in Tennessee and it looks like it will fail in Massachusetts, we need other health care options if we want to reduce costs.
One health care cost reduction option that has fallen through the cracks is Health Savings Accounts(HSA) and Health Reimbursement Accounts(HRA). I am an example of a person who has successfully used no health insurance, health reimbursement accounts, and health savings accounts for my family over the last ten years. The most recent employer provided health care costs that I could find are about $12,000 a year. My health care costs last year were $2,000. Beating the employer average for one year might be interesting but when you beat it for ten years you are looking at a viable health care alternative to universal health care and large employer health care plans. It may not be the right plan for everyone but it is the best investment I made over the last ten years. With the recent legislation my concern is that when the government develops a consensus that $12,000 for health insurance is normal, they will not be satisfied until everyone pays that amount. This is reflected in the recent health care reform which forces people to buy an insurance plan they may not need or want. The press coverage has indicated that the plans available in the health exchange will be modeled like those at large employers. For a person like me this amounts to a $10,000 a year tax. Even if I do not have to pay for the increase, I am grossly over-insured and my employer will bear the brunt of the cost increase. When I read the description of how the health insurance exchange plan is supposed to work, it sure sounds like a governmental version of http://www.ehealthinsurance.com/ with social goals as the primary goals. This is a recipe for a cost control disaster. If our government really wants to lower health care costs, they need to have health care cost control as their number one priority. If controlling health care cost is our number one priority, than it follows that people need the option of low cost health insurance as an incentive for those people who are willing to become savvy about their health care options.