A Millennial Approach To Healthcare: Competition Lowers Prices For All
Obamacare is a disaster, but so is the GOP effort to replace it. Perhaps, the answer might just lie with millennials and a restoring power back to the states and to the people.
The failure of the Republican party to cobble up a piece of healthcare legislation since gaining power of both the White House and Congress is nothing short of spectacular. Evidently, party unity is much easier to find when you know that legislation will be vetoed.
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Centrists are worried about any kind of deep Medicare cuts that are critical to their states, while party conservatives think that any type of legislation that has been brought up so far does not do enough to gut Obamacare. With nearly every one of these members of Congress campaigning on the repeal of Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the pressure is mounting for party leaders like Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan to bridge the divide between members in their party.
One of the key issues with the Affordable Care Act were the regulations placed upon insurers, forcing them to meet certain standards with every plan that they offered in state exchanges. Health insurance plans became much more comprehensive, and with it, much more expensive. Overly comprehensive plans, with skyrocketing premiums and deductibles, pushed many, mostly millennials, to pay the far less expensive penalty for being uninsured. This left the country with higher costs, and even with a government mandate, close to 30 million people still uninsured. If the basic understanding of insurance implies that you need younger, healthier people to offset the costs of the older and ill, then shouldn’t health insurance reform focus on the millennials needed to support it?
A millennial approach to health insurance reform would be focused on more competition and more choice. First, government regulations on insurance companies need to be cut and the Obamacare marketplace needs to go. With insurance companies able to offer a variety of plans, from highly comprehensive to just catastrophic, each individual will be able to make his or her decision on the best kind of coverage for themselves. This would mark a decisive turn from centralized health planning to a doctor-patient relationship that our health system should be built on. Furthermore, regulations that prohibit insurance plans from being sold across state lines needs to be axed. More choice and competition always leads to quality and better prices. Insurers competing across state lines can drive down the astronomical premiums we have been seeing, while also expanding the coverage that many Americans have come to enjoy. Ultimately, millennials will be able to choose coverage that suits them best, at a price they can afford.
The second concern that needs to be tackled is coverage for those who simply cannot afford it, either because of preexisting conditions that raise their premiums or poverty in itself. Obamacare placed a number of taxes on insurers, medical companies, and the upper class meant to offset subsidies for those who could not afford their coverage. As believers in the free market have come to know, these taxes, like many others, have proven to be largely harmful and ineffective. Many on the left have pointed to a single payer healthcare system, and everyone’s favorite Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanderes, might believe that healthcare is an inalienable, human right, but it simply is not. No free society can make one person give up their services, by force, for a price determined by a central government. Nevertheless, that does not mean we cannot come up with an effective and compassionate policy to take care of the poorest in our society.
Ben Shapiro, a favorite of many conservative millennials, talks often about the importance of a social fabric as the key safety net for those who might slip through the cracks. And he’s right. Unfortunately, the depths and pervasiveness of our government has handicapped many churches and communities from filling this gap. A return to a social fabric should be our long term goal. For now, though, the federal government needs to cede power back to the states and let them become a hot bed for experiments in taking care of those without coverage. One promising area is blind, high risk pools that are a mixture of subsidies and anonymity that can protect those with preexisting conditions. But many more would be sure to follow.