Tuesday, February 26

Mike Huckabee Health Care Plan

Huckabee approaches health care in a similar fashion to McCain. He believes that universal health care is not the answer but rather a system that is focused on containing costs and putting a priority on preventative care. This will give Americans more control of their health care options and make health care competitive in a global economy.

"It is time to recognize that jobs don't need health care, people do, and move from employer-based to consumer-based health care."

Huckabee is passionate that the health care system in this country is irrevocably broken, in part because it is only a "health care" system, not a "health" system. He asserts that is we need to get serious about preventive health care, instead of chasing more and more dollars to treat chronic disease, which currently gobbles up 80% of our health care costs, and yet is often avoidable.

Huckabee also advocates policies that will encourage the private sector to seek innovative ways to bring down costs and improve the free market for health care services. He wants to change a system that happily pays $30,000 for a diabetic to have his foot amputated, but won't pay for the shoes that would save his foot.

Huckabee's strategies to make health care more affordable include:
  • reforming medical liability
  • adopting electronic record keeping
  • making health insurance more portable from one job to another
  • expanding health savings accounts to everyone, not just those with high deductibles
  • making health insurance tax deductible for individuals and families as it now is for businesses. Low income families would get tax credits instead of deductions.
Health care spending is now about $2 trillion a year, which is close to $7,000 for each American. It consumes about 17% of our gross domestic product, easily surpassing the few European nations where spending is close to 10% and far higher than any other country in the world. According to Huckabee, if we reduced our out-of-control health care costs from 17% to 11%, we'd save $700 billion a year, which is about twice our annual national deficit.

Huckabee also points out that our health care system is making our businesses non-competitive in the global economy. How?
  • General Motors spends more on health care than it does on steel, $1,500 per car.
  • Starbucks spends more on health care than it does on coffee beans.
We have an employer-based system from the 1940's, a system devised not because it was the best way to provide health care, but as a way around World War II wage-and-price controls. Costs have skyrocketed because the party paying for the health care---the employer---and the party using the health care---the employee---are not the same. It is human nature to consume more of something that is essentially free.

Workers complain that their wages are stagnant, but businesses reply that their total compensation costs are rising significantly because they are paying so much more for health care. Huckabee sees that health care costs are adversely affecting your paycheck, even if you're healthy. Some Americans are afraid to change jobs or start their own businesses because they're afraid of losing their health insurance.

Huckabee says it is time to recognize that jobs don't need health insurance, people do, and to ease the burden on businesses. The employer-based system has outlived its usefulness, but Huckabee's answer is a true consumer-based system, not socialized medicine.



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