Late last month, national Democrats jumped at the opportunity to broadcast their proposals for a more centralized healthcare system during the presidential debates. The debate over implementing a “Medicare for All” approach has galvanized the progressive wing of the Democrat party, while tacitly underscoring the problems from Obamacare’s implementation.
The healthcare debate in the U.S. comes as Britain’s fully centralized National Health Service — a model similar to “Medicare for All” — deals with a waiting list of 4.4 million patients who are awaiting “routine operations.”
Providing a stark contrast to those running for president — Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) announced his “Healthcare Freedom Act of 2019.”
He unveiled his plan, and his intentions behind it, in an op-ed published by The Federalist.
The plan establishes what he dubs “health freedom accounts” (HFAs) which effectively act as “health savings accounts” but with more flexibility. Roy says the HFAs will focus on “direct patient-physician relationship, portable catastrophic coverage, and give control back to the individual,” which, he says, will reduce costs.
The bill would prevent money deposited, by employer or individual, from being taxed. Up to $12,000 per year can be deposited into the account. That limit is extended to $17,000 for anyone over the age of 55.
The newly defined HFA’s, in addition to existing qualified medical expenses, would also apply to expenses associated with direct primary care (DPC), health care sharing ministries, and other cost-sharing organizations.
Roy points to the DPC model as one that will allow consumers to choose their most preferred option and find it at the cheapest price possible.
High costs have long been a significant political talking point surrounding pushes to reform the United States’ healthcare system. Curbing costs coupled with mandating insurance coverage were the talking points used by congressional Democrats when originally selling Obamacare. Since that law’s inception, however, cost problems have not been mitigated.
In fact, they’ve grown worse.
For example, health insurance premiums doubled on average from 2013 to 2017 according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
A 2018 Heritage Foundation report found that numerous fees and regulatory aspects of Obamacare — including the so-called “preexisting conditions” mandates — directly contributed to the rise in health insurance premiums.
Roy says his proposal would also help alleviate the coverage mobility problem by allowing individuals to take their healthcare coverage with them wherever they go by “coupling direct primary care and insurance.”
As an example, he pointed to Union County, North Carolina which saw $1,408,089 in annual medical cost savings due to a similar approach. A whopping 73 percent of Union County’s DPC participants reported “significant improvement in their overall health.”
Choice — the other criteria Roy’s HFAs are meant to improve — has also not fared well since the implementation of Obamacare.
A 2015 analysis by Avalere, a healthcare policy group, found that within the Obamacare exchanges consumers had 34 percent fewer providers to choose from due to narrowed provider networks.
Roy’s proposal comes as Obamacare itself is facing yet another legal challenge from the state of Texas in the Fifth Circuit.
Should the appellate court agree with the plaintiffs, Obamacare’s constitutionality could once again be in front of the Supreme Court in the midst of a presidential election year.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.