A great deal has been written about Obamacare since the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal health care law. However, missing from the dialogue, if Obamacare is eventually repealed, is what can replace it?
While there is talk about tort reform and being able to purchase insurance across state lines, what else? That in itself is insufficient to deal with the continued increase in health care costs, which result in ever-increasing health care insurance premiums, whether for companies or individuals.
So what is missing?
In my opinion, what is missing is our taking charge of our own health care and to not just transfer that responsibility to “Government.” Through Medicaid, Medicare and other government-sponsored programs, they – and not us – determine what we are entitled to and who pays for it. Is there a better way to make individuals more responsible for their own well-being? The answer is a qualified, yes.
More than 45 years ago my family and I lived in Belgium. That far back they had a form of national health care – however, with a difference: You were required to purchase health care insurance from a for-profit, government-“approved” insurance company. The premiums were deducted from your paycheck each month. You had the choice of many different insurance companies and many different plans.
However, with a big difference: You chose the doctor or hospital. You were responsible for paying for the services rendered. The insurance company sent you a check for what the doctor or hospital charged within certain limits, which had been agreed to previously.
Also, you were responsible for paying the total amount, which included any differences.
Simply put, the flow of money went from the insurance company to you to the care provider. You were very involved in your own health care and not simply a witness to it.
For example, we had two children while living in Belgium. My wife chose an English-speaking doctor and we chose one of the better hospitals in the area. Both cost more than what the insurance allowed, so we paid the difference. However, we could have chosen a doctor and a hospital that would have been fully paid by the insurance company. We had the choice – not a government entity or an insurance company
Some might ask, “What about those who were unemployed?” The answer was that similar to what we have here in America today, no one was denied health care.
The point is, as soon as individuals are responsible for writing those checks, they will, most likely, have a completely different attitude about their health care.
To the naysayers who might say that people will take the insurance check and spend it on other needs and “stiff” the health care providers, as far as I know it has never been a serious problem.
By the way, according to good friends in Belgium, this plan is still in existence today and still works. If there, why not here?
Think about it.
Tom Hatfield is a Citizen Reporter for The Nerve who lives on Hilton Head Island.