GUEST EDITORIAL: Make health care affordable by using the open market
What do you think should be the government's role in health care? Can it be fixed? How?
The underlying question here is, should healthcare be a right to every citizen, thus making it "public"? An obvious example of this would be our police and fire departments providing a service and being governed and paid for by those citizens it is meant to protect.
The other option is "private," where citizens go to the marketplace to select and pay for the coverage they feel is best and, in most cases, most affordable to them.
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a precedence has been established solidifying the argument that health care is a right and not a choice, but this poses several problems that have left both the health care providers and their recipients scratching their heads, emptying both their pockets and bottom lines.
You guessed it! It's all about the money.
The ACA was doomed to fail well before it fell on President Obama's desk for his signature. He, along with other Democratic leaders, forged a bill that shook the very foundation of a $1.7 trillion industry without consideration of how to pay for it. The idea was, with the mandate (requiring every citizen to purchase insurance), the young and the healthy wouldn't use the coverage they were paying for and thus their revenues would pay for the expansion of coverage for those who couldn't afford it. That didn't happen but someone had to pick up the tab and that meant everyone else.
The health care providers had initially thought the ACA was a wonderful thing; I mean, why not? Everyone is forced to buy insurance inside of a limited market that isn't competing across state lines and adding upward of 23 million new customers. Sounds pretty great right? Wrong. There were limited subsidies provided to these companies with coverage that had very few limits in place. The only options for those health care providers was to drop out or raise premiums.
The health care industry has always been market driven, so when you take away competition, the demand increases and so does the cost. This is why President Trump proposed a bill (passed by the House) to reform the ACA, removing the mandate and allowing for the purchase of insurance across state lines. Is it a perfect solution? No, in fact most Democrats have expressed their disdain for it and many Republicans feel that it doesn't go far enough, and I would have to agree. But the problem facing the president is that he can't unbreak an egg. I say this because President Trump is dealing with the precedence I mentioned earlier; he can't take away insurance from those who otherwise wouldn't have any without the ACA (coverage for pre-existing conditions, etc.) and reset things as they were before the law was in place, but the only solution that I can see to truly making health care affordable again is to allow the market to adjust appropriately with minimal interference by our government. If this isn't done, both the ACA and/or Trump's reform bill will fail but not before it has extracted every dollar from our middle class.
Uriah Wilkinson is a former candidate for State Representative and has been active in local politics over the past 19 years.