Health insurance is a hot debate in Congress right now. With clear partisan lines, many Americans are rightly concerned about whether or not there will be a health insurance resolution passed. The problem is, most lawmakers are either insistent on a public health care option, or completely against it. However, there are ways around this that would include both public health care for those who need it, and not drain all the government resources.
My solution involves a compromise between a public health care option for everyone and the lack of any options right now. This would leave most people with private health care, but increase quality and decrease cost simply by introducing some new elements.
First, lawmakers need to figure out the average cost of health insurance. They would have to consider both premiums and deductibles, since a low-cost policy with high deductibles doesn’t actually save any money for sick Americans.
After calculating the average, the lawmakers need to apply a similar cost to public healthcare. Public healthcare may be slightly cheaper, depending on what they feel the quality of the public healthcare is compared to the quality of private health insurance. The full cost of deductible plus premiums should compare with the average private insurance.
Next, have individuals apply for public health insurance. To qualify, they must have no job, have no insurance available (such as self-employed or those whose employers simply don’t offer it, or those who can’t receive benefits for medical or other reasons) or be paying a percent (such as 10%) more than the national private health insurance cost average (again, premium plus deductible).
Once an individual qualifies, they may immediately pick up public health insurance.
Here’s where the government can help keep insurance costs down. For individuals who qualify because their insurance cost is above the national average, make their company and the insurance company pay the difference (or a percent of the difference) between the insurance they offer and the cost of government health insurance. This not only motivates companies to negotiate good, cheap health benefits but also brings in additional revenues to the government (and we need it!).
Then enact a tax credit for companies whose insurance is below the national average of insurance costs. Again, this is a huge motivator for companies to keep insurance costs low.
Last, lawmakers desperately need to enact legislation to get rid of insurance policy clauses. First year maximums, lifetime maximums and denials for certain types of procedures. Basically, lawmakers need to make private health insurance abide by the same rules as public health insurance.
This proposal for public health care is simply a start, but the ideas are a great start for combining both a public and private health care system, and not digging our country immensely deeper in debt to do it. There is no way we can go all or nothing on public health care. It’s not in the public’s best interest. Hopefully lawmakers understand the needs of the Americans, and do what’s right. We need some public options, but it doesn’t have to be offered to everyone to help those who truly need it.