If you’ve turned on a television in the last few weeks, you’ve heard a political ad about health care. That’s because poll after poll show us that Americans care deeply about their health coverage and want Congress to fix it.
Americans want to be confident that our loved ones and the most vulnerable among us can get the care they need. We want lower costs and better choices. And the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it is for Americans to have secure health coverage even if they lose or change jobs.
While politicians agree they want to address these problems, a deep divide exists over how.
Liberals see a need for more big government between patients, doctors and innovators creating new treatments. Some support changes such as a “public option”—a government run coverage plan that will “compete” with private plans. Others would give more generous taxpayer subsidies for people buying ObamaCare.
Others, like the majority of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 15 senators—including Kamala Harris—have sponsored a bill to outlaw private coverage and put us on a government-run plan they brand (inaccurately) “Medicare for All.” Advocates of this approach have indicated they see public options as pit stops on the road to full government control. Recall the words of then Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who, during the debate on ObamaCare, said, “I think that if we get a good public option, it could lead to single payer and that is the best way to reach single payer.” And that’s exactly what the so-called “incremental changes” of public options would lead to, as outlined in the new Heritage Foundation book “No Choice, No Exit: The Left’s Plans for Your Heath Care.”
These liberal approaches assume health care is so important, only the government can assure we get it. But the reality is government intervention into health care has repeatedly made things worse in key ways. These latest proposals double down on the past decade of ObamaCare’s failures, especially soaring premiums and deductibles and limited access to the doctors and hospitals patients want and need.
Too often, patients find that holding a government-issued insurance card doesn’t mean the same thing as access to care. For example, many of the top doctors are off limits to patients covered by ObamaCare. And one survey found nearly three-quarters of insurers (72 percent) feature narrow networks in the plans they offer through the federally managed exchanges (HealthCare.gov).
Although care restrictions are a by-product of government mandates to hold down cost, premiums still exploded from 2013 to 2018—188 percent in Georgia alone, according to Heritage Foundation research, while individual insurer offerings fell by 64 percent. These problems only moderated in recent years as states, including Georgia, pursued deregulatory actions made possible by the Trump administration.
A different solution is needed to lower health care costs, improve choices and protect the sick. That solution should empower American families and individuals to get the care they need—without making them ask Washington politicians or health insurance bureaucrats for permission. To achieve that goal, dozens of conservatives around the country have developed a proposal called Health Care Choices 20/20. That proposal asks Congress to build on the path President Trump blazed for the last four years and tackles ten pressing problems. The plan would advance personalized care that puts you and your doctor in charge and:
- Protect you if you get sick, have a pre-existing condition, or need financial help. It starts by dismantling the top-down system ObamacCare put in place, which gives more money to insurance companies every time they raise prices. Instead, states would get that money to fund efforts to help directly those who need it. Anyone who qualifies for a subsidy could use it for any coverage they want, which directly helps those who may qualify for coverage from their employer but do not have enough money to afford it. The proposal also includes specific provisions to help the sick access specialized plans, by removing requirements that plans try to be all things to all people. Instead, plans would be allowed to include centers of excellence catering to patients with specific medical problems, such as heart disease or diabetes.
- Save you money on health care and medication. This proposal gets you access to health care prices so you can comparison-shop to find the right care at the right price, while eliminating your risk of surprise bills, and removes barriers from allowing you to benefit financially when you choose lower cost care.
- Empower you to keep your health coverage and doctors when you change or lose your job by giving you more control over your health care dollars and employer benefits, and letting you choose a personal primary care doctor directly, who is independent of your insurance coverage and can advocate for the care you need.
Independent estimates show this proposal lowers costs by up to a quarter, resulting in covering about 4 million Americans more and increasing access to care by 8 percent.
That’s because freedom, not more government control, will get Americans the care they want, from the doctors they trust, at a price they can afford.
This piece originally appeared in The Hill on 12/31/20. It was published on Heritage.org on 3/1/21.