America is facing great challenges in healthcare. Our national health expenditure is $3.1 trillion per year, 17.4% of GDP, and is projected to reach 19.6% of GDP by 2024. Some 34% of Americans are obese (BMI>30), far more than in any other country. Their medical expenses will soar in the years ahead. Medicaid now covers over 70 million low-income people at a cost of $500 billion per year. Medicare spends $615 billion per year on the 42 million Americans over age 65.
The Hoover Institution’s Scott Atlas has just published “Restoring Quality Health Care: a six-point plan for comprehensive reform at lower cost.” He claims that his plan will save $2.75 trillion over a decade for private healthcare and an additional $1.5 trillion per decade for federal healthcare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
The elements of his plan are to:
- Expand Affordable Private Insurance by allowing all insurers to offer high deductible, limited-mandate catastrophic coverage (LMCC) to all citizens, which would be owned by individuals and portable.
- Establish and Liberalize Universal Health Savings Accounts (HSA) for all citizens, individually owned and portable.
- Instill Appropriate Incentives with Rational Tax Treatment of Health Spending equal for all, whether individual, self-employed or employer-based, requiring LMCCs for all.
- Modernize Medicare for the 21st Century by establishing a private insurance option with defined-benefit premium support based on regional benchmarks featuring cash rebates to individual HSAs if premium is less than benchmark, otherwise additional cost paid by enrollee.
- Overhaul Medicaid and Eliminate the Two-Tiered System for Poor Americans by permitting all insurers to offer LMCC plans to entire state population as well as setting up government seeded HSAs for all Medicaid enrollees.
- Strategically Enhance the Supply of Medical Care While Ensuring Innovation by stimulating private retail clinics and loosening practice restraints on nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
A plan along these lines would go a long way towards both improving the quality and lowering the costs of American healthcare.