October 10, 2013

Another View: If someone else pays the bills, patients won’t spend responsibly

Giving tax credits to establish a system of health savings accounts would help rein in care costs.

By Martin Jones, a resident of Freeport

Greg Kesich understands that there is a problem with how we pay for health care, but beyond that he doesn’t connect the critical dots (“New Augusta hospital shows flaws in how we pay for health care,” Oct. 2).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Jones is a resident of Freeport.

Several studies have concluded that as much as 30 percent of health care costs are for care that is redundant or unnecessary for some other reason. This will always be the case as long as someone else pays the bills.

Much of this waste could be eliminated by giving families tax credits to establish health savings accounts and to purchase insurance that meets their needs without unnecessary and expensive government coverage mandates. The key to controlling costs is to give patients more responsibility for their health care dollars.

Obamacare does exactly the opposite. The legislation’s fatal flaw is that it greatly expands the third-party payment system that is at the heart of the rising cost of care. It will exacerbate demand by expanding free Medicaid, and by offering generous subsidies for insurance premiums. One of the effects will be to encourage unnecessary treatments and facilities. Its primary purpose was never to lower the cost of care, but to lower the cost of insurance by shifting it to taxpayers and medical providers.

If the costs of care and true insurance decline, there will also be an increase in the number of people who are insured. Insuring the largest number of people at whatever cost was always Obamacare’s goal, but was never the right goal for health care reform.

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