In today’s Washington Post Charles Krauthammer pushes back on Democrats who claim conservatives are simply obstructing the health-care reform process and not offering alternative solutions.
As anyone who’s been following health care reform knows, conservatives have put forward lots of innovative ideas that would curb inefficiencies and lower costs without sacrificing high-quality care: purchasing health insurance across state lines, expanding health savings accounts, moving the current tax deduction for health insurance from employers to indivduals.
Krauthammer criticizes Dems for adding “1,000 pages of additional culicued complexity – employer mandates, individual mandates, insurance company mandates, allocation formulas, political payoff and myriad other conjured regulations and interventions.”
Instead, Krauthammer advocates tort reform and eliminating the outdated practice of employer-provided health care.
Tort reform alone could have a massive impact on insurance premiums and eliminate “defensive medicine that does no medical good, yet costs a fortune:”
An authoritative Massachusetts Medical Society study found that five out of six doctors admitted they order tests, procedures and referrals — amounting to about 25 percent of the total — solely as protection from lawsuits. Defensive medicine, estimates the libertarian/conservative Pacific Research Institute, wastes more than $200 billion a year. Just half that sum could provide a $5,000 health insurance grant — $20,000 for a family of four — to the uninsured poor (U.S. citizens ineligible for other government health assistance).
While people have become accustomed to receiving their health insurance through their employers, Krauthammer tells us why this doesn’t make sense:
There is no logical reason to get health insurance through your employer. This entire system is an accident of World War II wage and price controls. It’s economically senseless. It makes people stay in jobs they hate, decreasing labor mobility and therefore overall productivity. And it needlessly increases the anxiety of losing your job by raising the additional specter of going bankrupt through illness.
The health-care benefit exemption is the largest tax break in the entire U.S. budget, costing the government a quarter-trillion dollars annually. It hinders health-insurance security and portability as well as personal independence. If we additionally eliminated the prohibition on buying personal health insurance across state lines, that would inject new and powerful competition that would lower costs for everyone.