Beyond ObamaCare: Where Do We Go From Here?

Last Sunday’s Washington Post has an Op Ed column by Jon Kingsdale, “Beyond Healthcare.gov, Obamacare’s Other Challenges” which describes the many challenges confronting ObamaCare besides just the website problems and the millions of individual policies which will be cancelled for not meeting the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act.  Based on his experience setting up the Massachusetts Health Insurance Exchange from 2006-2010, there will  be huge problems in getting enrollment, billing and premium collections working smoothly for such a large government program.  For example, an estimated 27% of those who will be eligible for tax credits under the ACA do not have checking accounts.  How will their monthly premiums be paid and tracked for these people if they’re late?
Considering all of the problems involved in the implementation of ObamaCare, and the fact that it does not really reform our current very costly healthcare system but rather just extends it to cover more people, it makes much sense to move toward real healthcare reform, which will control costs.
A column in today’s Wall Street Journal by Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin, “A Conservative Alternative to ObamaCare”, lays out several basic features which should be included in a sensible, market oriented approach to healthcare reform.   The principles are:

  • A flat and universal tax credit for coverage which applies to everyone and not just for employer provided healthcare.  The (refundable) credit would be roughly the amount necessary for catastrophic coverage.
  • Medicaid could be converted into a means-based addition to this tax credit.
  • Everyone with continuous coverage (which would be provided by the tax credit) would be protected from price spikes or cancellations if they get sick.  This provides a strong incentive to buy and retain coverage without the need for a mandate.

A market oriented healthcare system like this is not only preferable to all of the mandates and restrictions of Obamacare, it also improves our current system by both expanding coverage to more people as well as controlling costs by giving health consumers (all of us) a much bigger stake in purchasing healthcare.
The United States spends 18% of GDP on healthcare, twice as much as any other country in the world.  Our fiscal stability and future prosperity depend on getting this huge and growing cost under control.  The ObamaCare fiasco provides an excellent opportunity to get started on doing this.

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