There’s alot of different ideas thrown around for fixing health care. Everything from so-called “socialist” medicine to doing nothing. Some would overhaul it completely while some would throw band-aids at the problem by doing something that doesn’t really do anything.
One of the former includes changing the tax code so that premiums paid are eligible for a tax credit. Sure, it might make premiums seem more affordable, but it would do nothing to address the systemic problems that are causing the current system to spiral downward.
Another is to push tort reform as if that were the cause of the health care crisis. That sounds good, until you or someone you love is a victim of medical malpractice that changes a life forever.
Then there is the idea of “co-ops” that really don’t offer much when it comes to actually giving insurance compaines real competition that breaks the stranglehold they currently have.
I have an idea that’s been floating around in my head for some time, and I’m curious what others think of it. I don’t pretend to have some inside knowledge or ability to suddenly solve a problem that has been an albatross around our collective necks for so long. I do think that perhaps, to fix it, we need to break it all the way.
By that I don’t mean break the medical care system, but to change fundamentally how we think about it and how we decide we want to pay for it. The first question everyone has to answer is just how much is a life worth? And fundamentally, is the life of one of us worth any more, or any less, than the next?
My idea is based on simple math, with the burden spread according to income.
First, determine the total expected cost of health care in America for any given year. To come up with that figure, use the amount spent in the year prior and either use that or assume an increase based on inflation.
Next, determine the total income of all Americans. Use the same factors as used in the first calculation. Next, figure out the total health care cost per person.
Once we have that figure, exempt a portion of the cost attributed to children. It would be unjust to penalize families, so allow the calculations to, say, exempt 2 children completely, and each additional child at 50 percent. The retired are already covered, so that wouldn’t have to change much.
After doing the figures you would end up with a concrete percentage. Say it’s 9%. Nine percent of all income in America equals 100% of medical expenses not part of retirement, which could be kept as a separate entity.
Would you be willing to pay 8%? And make it across the board? If you make less than, say, 150 percent of the poverty level, your premium could be subsidized. Other than that, no exceptions. What’s that, you say, everyone would pay the same? Exactly.
Nothing would change as far as the medical professional and the patient are concerned, just the method of paying for it.
The person making 40,000 a year would pay 8%, and so would the person making 1 million. No one life would be more valuable than any other. It won’t take a proportionally higher amount of income for a truck driver to stay healthy as opposed to a stock broker, for example. And we would all have a vested interest in controlling costs.
I know it’s not anything that is close to being a real policy proposal in the foreseeable future. I am curious, however, what other people think of it. And if they think it’s wacky, I hope they will elaborate as to why.