Trump’s turn: How the new president and Congress can fix health care

January, 2017 Posted in Columnists & Opinion, Other

carl-sampsonA few years ago, I invented a new health care system that would be far superior to Obamacare, Medicare and all the other forms of care we taxpayers are now forced to finance. With Donald Trump’s election as the next president, I naively decided to send a synopsis of Carlcare to several members of Congress and others in an attempt start a conversation about how best to care for the health of 319 million Americans.

The response: crickets. Not one person wrote back saying, “Thanks,” or “You’re crazy.”

This brought me to two conclusions. First, most members of Congress, at least the ones I sent my letter to, can’t read. They did not respond to my letter. This has been shown to be the case before. In fact, when Obamacare was first passed, several members of Congress admitted they hadn’t read the whole bill. I still believe they couldn’t read it, hence all the craziness that has transpired because of its flaws.

Second, many members of Congress appear to have no idea what they are doing when it comes to health care. My worst fear is that they will take a hatchet to Obamacare and make things even worse, not better.

Carlcare, on the other hand, would provide government-paid health care, including emergency room visits, preventive services such as physicals and weight-loss clinics, counseling and addiction treatment, and even dental and vision care, including checkups and glasses.

Only the most expensive health plans currently do that. For example, some corporations and governments provide that level of care to employees but at an extravagant price.

Just pick up a newspaper and you’ll find a CEO or legislator complaining about the cost of health care insurance. So what is Carlcare?

Under Carlcare, every man, woman and child legally residing in the U.S. would receive a voucher for up to $5,000 in medical services each year. It could be used for doctor visits, dental work anything but purely vanity-related procedures.

The doctors and hospitals would be paid directly by Uncle Sam. They no longer would have to chase patients seeking payment for an emergency room visit or being forced to write off the expense. Hospitals alone wrote off $41 billion in unpaid bills in 2013. To make up for those losses, they increase the costs paid by others – you, for example.

To access Carlcare, every man, woman and child would have to purchase $5,000 deductible health insurance from a private company. Some people have asked how someone on unemployment could keep their health insurance.

That’s where the states come in. They would pay the premiums of those residents in need, and it would be far cheaper than what the states are currently paying. Because the size of the “pool” of customers would be 319 million, the premiums would be reasonable — say, $50 a month per person.

In Oregon, the state’s best and brightest spent $250 million just trying to get an Obamacare website to work. Under Carlcare, there would be no websites. A certified letter or other document showing a patient has a paid-up health insurance policy would be sufficient.

Some people say the government can’t afford footing the health care bill for 319 million Americans. On the contrary, the government would actually save money. The federal government last year spent more than $1.2 trillion on health care and corporate tax breaks related to health care, according to the Tax Policy Center, a think tank.

Under Carlcare, Medicare, Medicaid and even veterans’ health care would be included, the only difference is that the federal government also would pay the insurance premiums for all veterans and those seniors over 65 who can’t afford to pay their own.

Just imagine lifting those ever-increasing burdens off the shoulders of the federal government.

And imagine lifting that burden off the shoulders of private businesses. General Motors was once described as a health care company that built cars. It was buried in health care costs. Nearly every U.S. company, small or large, is saddled with a huge financial burden in the form of health insurance.

Some companies dodge that obligation by hiring only part-time employees who don’t qualify for Obamacare. This helps the companies but hurts the employees and the economy.

Under Carlcare, every American would have his or her own health insurance, so employers would no longer have to bear that burden.

Carlcare would be another U.S. economic driver instead of a drag on the economy like Obamacare.

One other thing: Carlcare would serve as an incentive for illegal immigrants to become legal. Instead of wasting billions of dollars chasing and deporting illegal immigrants, the federal government could shift much of that funding to Carlcare. Instead of hiding, immigrants would be lining up to pay fines and learn English to become legalized and eligible for Carlcare. The ones who wouldn’t qualify because of criminal records would just leave.

I know I haven’t thought about every little flaw in my plan but the benefits — every American would have access to affordable health care and the federal government’s liability would be capped, among them — far outweigh any conceivable downside.

In fact, Americans would become healthier as they are able to afford annual checkups and detect diseases at early stages, saving even more money in the long run.

So there you have it: Carlcare, a new way to think about health insurance for every American.

Carl Sampson is a journalist. He lives in Stayton, Ore.

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