Today the Republican Study Committee (RSC) released a new health reform plan. This plan focuses on “personalized health care” – a real contrast to the Democrats’ focus on Medicare for All.
Under the RSC plan, individuals could purchase health insurance using money from their Health Savings Accounts. This idea, called Large HSAs, is meant to equalize the tax treatment of insurance plans purchased by individuals and by employers. Ultimately, this important policy change would encourage more people to shop for and buy insurance on their own, which would generate more market competition and lead to lower prices. Most importantly, it would give people the choice of what insurance plan to buy (they wouldn’t simply have to settle for the plan their boss picked out) and it would make it easier for people to maintain continuous coverage (meaning you wouldn’t have to switch insurance plans when you changed jobs).
The plan focuses a great deal on strengthening government safety nets like Medicaid and guaranteed coverage pools for people with pre-existing conditions. It would change the federal matching formula for Medicaid funds to a block grant, meaning that instead of rewarding states for spending more money on Medicaid, the federal government would allocate set dollar amounts to each state’s program and then give states a high level of control of their Medicaid programs. Similarly, the plan would use federal dollars to fund state-run guaranteed coverage pools for people with pre-existing conditions.
One refreshing reform in this plan is the focus on direct payment for health care. It’s very popular today to suggest that everyone needs health insurance coverage to pay for everything in health care. That’s not an efficient or affordable way to pay for health care products and services, and sadly, it limits patient choices to only providers deemed “in-network” by their insurance plan. Direct payment allows patients to work directly with doctors. Cutting out the middleman in these transactions reduces costs and headaches.
Instead of Medicare for All, the RSC plan is focused on personalized health care with the recognition that there is no one size fits all… Each person has his or her own needs and preferences in health care; we should simply focus on making it affordable and easy for people to access the health care that’s best for them as individual patients.