I can remember when my carefree lifestyle changed rather significantly, at the ripe old age of 8, when Dad declared that from this day forward I was to recieve a weekly allowance of a whopping $2 per week. To earn this sum, I had certain jobs to perform such as making my bed, washing dishes, walking the dog and shoveling the front walk every time it snowed (a big deal as we had an average yearly snowfall of 144 inches).
So what would happen if we applied this same principle to health care? Let’s say the federal government gives each legal resident in the USA over 21 a debit card with an annual value of $5,000 to be used exclusively for non-catastrophic health care-related episodes of care. These non-catastrophic categories would include mandatory annual physicals, prescriptions, essential diagnostic tests that either identify major illnesses (early detection tests such as mamograms, colonoscopies, etc.) or preventative tests based on family history issues. With the mandatory annual physical, the primary care physician becomes the gatekeeper of the entire system, which is where the responsibility belongs. Based on this individual examination, if a health care problem is diagnosed, a related plan of care is created for the patient to follow. It becomes the patient’s responsibility to follow this plan. If they do not comply and their condition worsens because they failed to follow these directions, then they recieve no monetary benefits associated with the card.
Other elements to be considered:
• Individuals under 21 would be in another plan with another annual amount based on established historical statistics.
• Catastrophic events would be paid by the federal government at pre-established rates. This category would include all major illnesses, major surgery, etc., and their related prescriptions.
• All employers would be required to pay a per-employee rate not to exceed their current insurance rates for two years. If none available, a national rate would be generated so that every employer contributes.
• The $5,000 would be spent every time an individual touches the medical system. Rates would be published for all co-payments and diagnostic tests even if they are mandated by the system or described in a related plan of care. These charges would hopefully create a sense of responsibility to follow a healthier lifestyle and create an awareness that there are costs associated with good health.
• If individuals do not spend the $5,000, then the government would deposit a certain pre-established amount in their social security account or perhaps an educational fund for your children.
Maybe through this allowance concept, we can do a better job of controlling our health care costs.
I look forward to hearing your comments on this brief outline (not 26,000 pages).
What do you think?
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