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Bush's Healthcare policies

>> Thursday, September 23, 2004

Jody and I have spent a lot of time bashing Kerry. It's fun, it's exciting, but quite frankly pretty easy to do. Kerry more than meets you half-way in the exercise. I'd like to take some time to inform you about some of Bush's policy decisions. I'm starting with healthcare because it's usually high on the list of priorities and Senators Kerry and Clinton are pushing a misguided national payer system.

Here's all of President Bush's healthcare policies listed in summary form and with the speeches that announced them.

I want to start with Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSA). They are a souped up version of the Medical Spending Account. The big difference is that the dollars you invest are rolled over every year. You don't have to spend it all in December. The other nice thing is that not only is the money you put into your HSA tax exempt, the interest is also. This is a way to pay for things with pre-tax money. You can pay your insurance premiums out of this fund so that money is tax exempt too. If you don't have an HSA, contact the people that administer your 401(k) or SEP retirement plans (that will be another discussion). If you don't have a retirement plan, get one at any financial advisor such as Edward Jones, Piper Jaffray, Merle Lynch or online.

Think about this. You invest in your own plan and when the amount reaches a level you think is high enough, you can stop investing and still be covered in case of medical emergency. This is how you can pay for healthcare later in life.

Next, Medical liability reform to help rein in unnecessary health care costs. Too many lawsuits without merit are being filed against doctors and hospitals, forcing them to practice defensive medicine, driving good doctors out of practice, and driving up health care costs for everyone. The President believes people who have a legitimate claim must have their day in court. But to make health care more affordable and accessible to everyone, we must reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits and limit excessive jury awards. No patient has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit.
A Des Moines Register editorial recently proclaimed this nonsense. They then went on to ask for more regulations and political oversight. How that will help no one knows. I do know that there are many physicians that stopped practicing because of high insurance due to high dollar awards. I do know that health care providers go out of their way to limit their legal liability. Such as performing unnecessary surgeries, administering more drugs than are required, and not seeing certain ailments or conditions. Do you want to live in a state where OB/GYNs cannot afford to stay in practice?

My answer is to deregulate the process as much as possible. Hospitals and clinics spent a lot of administrative dollars just to make sure each government regulation has it's i's dotted and t's crossed. More is spent to limit legal liability.

Hand in hand with this is to change the health care insurance model. Right now it's a tax break for medium-to-large companies. Small businesses and the self-employed get hosed with big premiums. Remove the tax benefit for the companies and encourage people to pay for their own insurance. If it's routed through an HSA it will be tax exempt for the employee. Employers can increase wages the exact amount they were contributing. If that doesn't happen, employees are free to go someplace that will.

This will stop people from making unnecessary trips to the physician and make people consider price shopping. It's a big difference when it's your own money involved.

The last item in the president's list is "to make electronic medical records universally available for Americans in the next ten years." This process has been going on for 10 years already, I don't know if another 10 will be enough. Who knows? Maybe someone is close to creating a package that meets every health care system's needs. I doubt it, but it could happen.

What are your thoughts as it relates to your families health care? If you paid for your own health insurance, what would you do different? What other issues do you have?

UPDATE: Read the comments in Roger Simon's blog for many excellent ideas.

More Info from the Pros: Roth CPA's explain HSA's in great detail.


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