To Fix Health Care System, Put Consumers in Charge

by Larry Emmott on July 8, 2012

in Health Care Politics

From public opinion pollster Scott Rasmussen:

Americans now pay a smaller share of their disposable income on out-of-pocket medical care than they did in 1960. Nearly nine out of every 10 dollars spent on medical care coverage is paid by either an insurance company or the government. Since someone else is paying the bills, someone else ends up making the big decisions about things that affect every individual’ health care.

That is precisely what most Americans want to change. No one wants their health care choices being made by government officials, insurance companies or their employer. People want to make those important decisions themselves.

via To Fix Health Care System, Put Consumers in Charge – Scott Rasmussen – Page 1.

The public opinions Rasmussen has discovered and relates in the linked article support what I have long believed. That is that the issues that most concern people regarding health care are the result of control of the system passing from the consumer (in medicine and dentistry the patient) and the professional (dentist or physician) to the third party that is paying for it; an insurance carrier or a government agency.

It is to be expected that the party paying the bills wants to control costs. Centralizing and codifying the process is not likely to improve the situation for consumers but will lead to even less consumer control. And, as we see in countries that already have an established government health care plan, discussions of rationing, who deserves care as opposed to who does not and whether people can be permitted to make life choices others may consider unhealthy. After all once the government is responsible for paying for your health care the government has a legitimate interest in how you take care of yourself.

My belief is that most Americans do not want to see others suffer needlessly and do not want to face the threat of financial ruin because of a medical condition. At the same time they do not want a government bureaucracy like the IRS telling them what to eat, how big a soda they can buy and whether or not they can have surgery.

Obviously there are some conflicts here and there is no simple easy answer, if there was we would have already done it and there would be no discussion. However in broad terms we can put the options in either the central control camp or the consumer control camp. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as it is now written is all command and control. That, Rasmussen’s research finds is not at all what the public really wants.

This post (and WSJ article) is related and presents some alternative approaches.

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