Or just legalize an alternative?
Following a politically disastrous failure to repeal and replace Obamacare earlier this year, reports suggest that House Republicans are “close” to a plan that might pass. We’ll report on this as soon as details become available.
One thing, however, remains abundantly clear: consumer control must be central to any healthcare solution.
From the beginning, ANH-USA opposed Obamacare because it reduced freedom of consumer choice in healthcare. Although we succeeded in getting some useful changes in the bill, we pointed out that the law allows the federal government to define what health is and what health insurance is. This, coupled with the mandated purchase of government-approved insurance—lest one be slapped with fines and even jail—means the government was unwittingly opening the way for special interests such as drug companies, medical device manufacturers, and the American Medical Association to complete their takeover of medicine. We said the resulting government-supported monopolies would also keep driving prices into the stratosphere, and wreck our economy as well as our health. These warnings have proved correct.
At ANH-USA, we have always stood for the freedom of consumers to choose the type of healthcare they want, and the freedom of practitioners to practice without harassment. This is the only way to break the monopolies that are strangling medicine—as well as our economy.
How can these goals be achieved, given current political realities? One elegantly simple solution is to NOT repeal Obamacare, but rather to pass legislation that legalizes the sale of health insurance that consumers prefer.
As it stands now, competition in healthcare is stifled by government regulations. For instance, it is illegal in most cases to sell health insurance in the US that doesn’t cover a wide array of conditions and treatments—including drug rehab and pregnancy services—which many of us will never use. Moreover, you still might not be able to see the doctor you want or go to the hospital you want. Then, despite the fact that your premium is sky-high, you still end up paying out-of-pocket for most of your care.
There is, of course, an irony in this. Obamacare was originally intended to eliminate deductibles and co-pays, but instead drove them through the roof. In addition, Americans seeking the services of integrative physicians—who are almost never covered by insurance—are required to pay twice: they are forced to buy government health insurance they won’t use, and then pay a second time for the healthcare they actually want.
To achieve meaningful reform and lower prices, lawmakers need to repeal the laws that create medical monopolies. For example:
- Qualified professionals, including nurses, should be able to deliver appropriate medical services.
- Any medically appropriate treatment should be allowed to compete as a medical treatment—not just those approved by the FDA at a cost of billions, which eliminates anything not patentable. This will greatly increase supply, a precondition for bringing prices down.
- Lawmakers also must restore power to the consumer by allowing insurance companies to compete with one another, to offer the best plans at the lowest prices.
This means offering everything from catastrophic-only plans, which are especially suitable for those who want integrative medicine, to bare-bones plans with high deductibles—to premium plans that cover everything, including integrative medicine. Consumers should be able to pick from among plans that cover the things they need—not simply among plans that the government deems acceptable but which are really controlled by companies seeking government-controlled monopolies.
Obamacare does not necessarily need to be repealed completely for such competition to take place. Repeal could focus on allowing other approaches as well. The two laws could then run simultaneously, and Americans could choose which system they would like to take part in.
ANH-USA board member Dr. Ronald Hoffman offers more good ideas for how we can go about fixing American healthcare (the following points are taken directly from Dr. Hoffman’s excellent piece on this subject):
- Foster a return to paying doctors directly, which eliminates pricey insurance and government bureaucrats as arbiters of “correct” medical care.
- HSAs (tax-incentivized Health Savings Accounts) should be encouraged, and they should be expanded to cover supplements, gym memberships, yoga, and treatment by alternative practitioners.
- Put an end to state medical boards’ prosecution of doctors merely for providing integrative services.
- Create an entirely new medical speciality called “iatrinology.” Iatrogenic means medicine-caused harm—by various estimates, injury due to (even correctly-applied) medicines and surgery is among the major causes of death, injury, and disability in the US. Medical overkill is tanking our healthcare economy and undermining the well-being of Americans, so doctors need to cultivate the skill of identifying side effects, and how to wean patients off complex drug regimens. In part, this can be accomplished by the skillful deployment of diet, lifestyle, and scientifically validated
- Allow for truthful claims about the efficacy of supplements to be communicated to the US public. Under the current system—an extraordinary abridgment of free speech rights—supplement companies are enjoined from claiming that their products do anything to prevent or ameliorate disease, even when conclusive scientific evidence exists to back their claims! Recently, even walnuts, cherries, and pomegranate juice were threatened with ruinous government lawsuits for publicizing their true health benefits. How can Americans make informed health choices when purveyors of low-cost natural solutions are muzzled?
We’re at a tipping point on this issue. We hope Congress can enact some commonsense reforms to our healthcare system that offer affordable care and freedom of choice to all Americans.
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health: