Sen. Jim DeMint released his own health care plan today. I’m going to hear him speak in a bit, so I’ll just post on it quickly for now and say that it does several good things, though a few I’m not crazy about. One aspect that I don’t like is that it preserves the employer-based insurance model while providing vouchers for individuals to purchase health insurance. This may solve one of the problems with the employer tax exclusion — that it’s unfair to individuals purchasing insurance on their own — but it doesn’t solve other problems created when employers purchase people’s health care, including the “third party buyer” problem that drives up health care costs because people feel that somebody else is picking up the tab. Other aspects of the bill are better, including that it “creates a nationwide market for health insurance by allowing individuals to purchase health insurance plans in any state.” This is a key to giving consumers more choices and a way around the nearly 2,000 onerous benefit mandates states impose on insurers, which drive up the cost of policies.
Another encouraging aspect is that it, “Assures that every health care consumer has access to price information prior to treatment so they can make informed decisions about their care.” I’m a free market guy, but I’m all for disclosure, because it allows the free market to function properly. There’s no reason why it should be easier for me to research what BluRay player to buy than it is to find the prices and health outcomes at my local hospitals or doctors’ offices. Also, the bill “Reduces predatory and frivolous malpractice lawsuits against physicians and hospitals.” I’d like to know more about how the legislation achives that. I’m all for limiting frivolous lawsuits, but the trick is how to do so without depriving those who are legitimately harmed the ability to sue and be fairly compensated. DeMint’s office claims that the bill would be deficit neutral because they would terminate the TARP bailouts by making companies repay them within 5 years. I’m all for that in theory, but I have no idea if it would be possible given the way the TARP contracts were written — i.e. if banks didn’t agree to the 5 year limit when they borrowed the money, could they be retroactively forced to abide by that time limit? To sum up, obviously the DeMint plan couldn’t pass, and while I have some issues with it, I think it’s a worthy alternative.
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