Control, Choices, and Greater Industry Competition

Presidential hopeful, John McCain, today revealed his thoughts on how to reform the U.S. health care system. Though not fully fleshed out, the concepts are market-driven health plan innovations that deserve some discussion.

His ideas revolve around giving people more control and more choices while fostering greater industry competition in hopes of lowering costs and improving services.

McCain introduced his plan during a speech to the Rotary Club Des Moines and according to published reports his plan calls for:

_Allowing people to buy health insurance nationwide instead of limiting them to in-state companies, and permitting people to buy insurance through any organization or association they choose as well as through their employers or directly from an insurance company.

_Providing tax credits of $2,500 to individuals and $5,000 to families as an incentive to help them buy insurance. All people would get the tax credit even if they get insurance through work or buy it on their own.

_Supporting different methods of delivering care, including walk-in clinics in retail outlets across the country, and developing routes for cheaper generic versions of drugs to enter the U.S. market, including allowing for safe importation of drugs.

Allowing people to buy health insurance nationwide is an idea that the Health Plan Innovation Blog can applaud. Current regulations at the state level protect the relatively few carriers who register products in any given state. Allowing carriers to file plans nationally will give consumers more choices, increase competition, and lower prices.

Next, providing tax credits for individuals who buy insurance on their own, or through work, is a true innovation. Why should only employers get a tax break for health insurance? Why not self employed individuals? For that matter, why not anyone who might want to buy insurance for themselves or their family regardless of what might or might not be offered by their employer?

Lastly, the idea of supporting different methods of delivering care, including walk-in clinics in retail outlets across the country, is an innovation that will encourage competition, pricing transparency, and consumerism — all components needed to get health care delivery into a rational framework governed by market forces.

McCain, in releasing his health plan, has demonstrated an understanding of the industry and evolving trends that has not been present in the health care plans offered by most of the other presidential candidates, regardless of party.

 

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