Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Solution to Health Coverage Crisis: Free Health Zones

Like many of the issues publicized in the Democratic media, the "health care crisis" is just a government failure, little more. The government has meddled with the health system for over a century. The first regulation of life insurance occurred in New York State when Met Life claimed that a now illegal concept called Tontine Insurance was immoral and therefore should be illegalized and regulated. Met's newly founded competitor, Equitable, invented Tontine Insurance. It was a form of gambling based on survival plus life insurance. There were two elements, life insurance plus a lottery instead of a cash value. The lottery proceeds were paid to the last survivors of a given cohort. So if you entered the Tontine in 1865, probably by 1910 or 1920 the last survivors in your age bracket would be left and if you were one of them you collected a big windfall, like a million bucks or something (today's million bucks was worth $80,000 back then).

Anyway, Met Life didn't like the competition and the popularity of Tontines and so had them illegalized. Thus began regulation of life insurance, of which health insurance is derivative.

Regulation inevitably serves producer interests and insurance is no exception. Health insurance also is influenced by provider lobbies, which are many. So the health coverage crisis is a product of provider and insurance industry influence on the regulation of coverage.

To solve the problem that the pro-regulation Republicans and Democrats create:

1. Eliminate all mandates on coverage
2. Deregulate providers
3. Provide tax credits for purchase of individual health insurance
4. Legalize ultra-high deductible policies, with deductibles as high as $20,000
5. Permit tax credit individual retirement accounts so that individuals can easily save for the difference between the deductible and their losses
6. Legalize free health zones whereby foreign providers can operate in partnership with but free of interference from US providers

With regard to number 6, a large range of elective operations are now being performed overseas for as little as 10 percent of the cost of the same operation in the US. US firms ought to partner with foreign ones in the globalization of health care. Quality standards that exceed US levels can be established by talented providers, much as Japanese auto companies found ways to significantly exceed US quality standards in the automotive field.

Currently, globalized health care depends on travel to a foreign country. If the US establishes free health zones exempt from provider-driven regulation, then low-cost foreign providers can set up shop here, much as Japanese auto companies have.

De regulation and ending of health care socialism, rather than increasing it, will end the government-induced health care coverage crisis.

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