But one of my biggest frustrations about the whole situation is the Republicans' inability to come up with a viable alternative. Annoys me to death. Stop rallying us against the ACA, and give us something to rally for. So this weekend, when my husband described to me his ideas for how to reform healthcare, I was intrigued.
Here's his plan. Call it “O-Kandt-a-care”. (Nah, don't call it that.) Don't get too hung up on numbers and particulars here; it's a broad concept with details negotiable at this point.
It starts with the baseline that government will cover any citizen's medical expenses once they exceed $5,000 in a year -- basically universal catastrophic coverage. Nobody will go into bankruptcy from catastrophic or long-term illness or injury, and nobody will die for lack of healthcare in such situations. The government will also fund basic screenings and annual exams to detect such issues before they reach the catastrophic state.
But everyone – for the most part – will still be responsible for finding that first $5,000 a year to pay for their own healthcare needs. Yeah, some folks may have to stretch a bit some years, do some creative budgeting, but if you know up front to plan for that much in a year, you figure out how to do it. And many people will never spend that much (that's why they opt for these "substandard plans" that Obamacare is eliminating).
For those who genuinely don't have $5,000 a year (and there are many that don't), this is where private charity and the goodwill of the people come in. And yes, I realize many of you simply don't trust the goodwill of the people to step up to the plate, but I believe people WILL when the need is clear and limited. Perhaps low-interest medical loans can be offered to those who need them. But between family, friends, churches, charities, and low-interest loans, people should be able to find means to pay for their medical needs up to $5,000 a year – especially when the government is paying for basic screenings and check-ups.
(Again, don't get hung up on the number -- it's negotiable. And maybe the amount can be adjusted lower for families with lower incomes – a graduated scale, like with income taxes? That's my input there, not part of hubby's idea.)
This also leaves open the possibility that if someone wants to purchase health insurance that gives them a better deal than this (or get it as a benefit from their employer), they are free to do so. A $5,000 upper limit still makes a company plan a desirable benefit, so companies will still choose to offer them. And by all means, let insurance companies offer whatever plans there is a demand for, like a business should work; not everyone wants to pay the money for all the bells and whistles being required now.
Again, details still need to be worked out here. It's not a perfect plan – no plan ever would be. There will be those who fall through the cracks somewhere – there always will be. But nobody is required to purchase anything (something I still can't believe is constitutional). Insurance companies can function as the market allows. People have to take some personal responsibility for themselves and for their neighbors. There is still a safety net. And best of all: it's SIMPLE. No two-thousand-page document is necessary to explain this. It seems to me that this is a better alternative than what we're ending up with now.
Questions will be directed to my husband and may take a little time to get an answer (he's got a "real" job, after all). And they'd better be nice. We're all friends here. :)