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Sensible alternatives to Obamacare and pre-Obamacare system (Amended)

House Republicans have submitted numerous alternatives to Obamacare to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. refuses to allow them to proceed.
House Republicans have submitted numerous alternatives to Obamacare to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. refuses to allow them to proceed.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Despite the repetitive mantra by collectivists that "conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans have no alternative to the Affordable Care Act," the truth is that alternative plans have been proposed all along. Each time such a proposal is sent from the House to the Senate, however, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., refuses to bring it to the floor for a vote.

Reid's many refusals to allow these plans to be considered in the Senate does not mean they have not been proposed. The fact that few Americans have heard of them is indicative of the fact that the mainstream media has ignored such proposals in order to give cover to Reid and Obama.

Various plans have been proposed by House Republicans. Others have been proposed by conservatives outside of government. And others have been proposed by libertarian think-tanks such as the Cato Institute. Cato summarizes its proposal as follows:

The Cato Institute’s Patient Power plan for health care reform seeks to put control over spending back in the hands of individual patients. Under the Patient Power plan, people could make deposits to tax-free Medical Savings Accounts to finance routine medical expenses. Workers currently covered by employer-provided insurance could fund their MSAs by switching from low-deductible policies to high-deductible catastrophic policies and depositing the premium savings. Furthermore, the Patient Power plan would eliminate the arbitrary discrimination of today’s tax system and allow all Americans, regardless of employment status, to claim tax benefits for purchasing catastrophic insurance and making deposits to Medical Savings Accounts.

But for our purposes here, I will reiterate some ideas I rolled out in 2008-09 as a conservative alternative to the Obamacare proposal. As time has progressed I have added provisions to that initial plan to make it better. But the bottom line is that it works, it is easy, it minimizes government meddling, it gives doctors and patients maximum freedom, and it emphasizes the role of the free market in keeping the costs low.

First, medical savings plans should be offered to all workers. A certain amount from our paychecks should be withheld by employers for the specific purpose of paying for healthcare, just as we do with Social Security and Medicare. These savings accounts would at once clear up most of the problems Americans have had with being able to afford healthcare. And the employer/employee, not the government, has control over it.

Second, a voucher system could be put in place to help the elderly, the poor, and our veterans. In this system such persons are given a voucher, a guarantee from health care providers that the costs of healthcare for these persons will be covered. Then, we allow these persons to choose their own doctors and hospitals. This in no way would destroy Medicare and Medicaid but would change the nature of those programs. And the quality of care would increase dramatically due to the need for the private health provider industry -- the single reason for the fact that the U.S. healthcare system is the best in the world.

Another voucher system has been proposed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. This system would be a "universal plan" and is well worth considering.

The voucher system is now being implemented in third world countries with great success. One group that spearheads this process stated,

The most effective voucher schemes encourage provider competition. Consumer-led vouchers which allow for choice of provider empower the consumer. This is in stark contrast to supply-side subsidies which offer providers little incentive to attract patients or to increase productivity. Furthermore, health care vouchers can be a powerful tool to encourage evidence-based practice in the private sector.

Well-designed vouchers can serve as evidence of service exchange, receipts and survey data collection instruments. In this manner, administration is simpler and cheaper, and valuable information about the target population can be gathered.

The voucher system has its vehement detractors, and rightly so. Government is heavily involved in it, and thus, it becomes an entitlement program. Entitlements are already destroying the economy by increasing the debt.

Third, the various alternative plans would not destroy the health insurance industry, but as with Medicare and Medicaid would change the nature of it. Insurance would exist solely to fill in the gaps, if any, such as catastrophic insurance, and coverage for the poor, the elderly, and the nation's veterans. But this plan would, indeed, greatly diminish the power of insurance companies to meddle in the doctor-patient relationship. Under this plan the government would be forbidden from coming between citizens and their doctors. So would insurance companies.

Fourth, tort reform is sorely needed to prevent frivolous and astronomically expensive lawsuits from hamstringing doctors and hospitals. This is not to say that sometimes patients need to sue for large sums of money. But the percentage of those situations is comparatively small. With tort reform hospitals and doctors would be protected from frivolous suits which have singlehandedly sent the costs of medical care skyrocketing.

Fifth, open up the market to consumers. A patient should be able to choose between a variety of insurers in any state in the union. As it stands now we are limited to our own state. But greater competition between companies located all across the country will have the effect of driving down the costs of policies.

Sixth, patient privacy is essential. This plan would stop all violations of privacy inherent in Obamacare or any government-controlled healthcare system. The doctor-patient relationship should be guarded at all costs, and the best way to do that is to prevent records from being available to an army of government bureaucrats, or to anyone else who does not have a direct need to see them.

Seventh, if it is decided that vouchers are not the way to go but to force insurance companies to offer affordable plans to the poor that cover preexisting conditions, then major tax breaks and credits should be provided to the insurance companies for their willingness to participate in this plan.

Another proposal that has shown promise is to give the poor tax credits for any money they spend for healthcare. This proposal differs from the voucher system proposal, which only shows that conservatives have, indeed, offered multiple alternatives to Obamacare which have been totally ignored by the White House and the U.S. Senate.

These ideas are not presented as "my plan" or suggest any endorsement but merely to show that citizens and politicians outside the Democratic Party have, indeed, offered many alternatives to Obamacare that would be better for the nation.

Notice! This article has been amended and corrected from an earlier version.

You may also be interested in the following:

My personal blog, The Liberty Sphere.

My popular series titled, Musings After Midnight.

My ministry site, Martin Christian Ministries.