As the first two primary debates showed, the Democratic presidential nominees have been talking a lot about health care. Primarily, their strategy revolves around price controls from government regulation and a policy prescription through which nothing will get done. The economy will only be harmed by more top-down control from the federal government.
Reform of the healthcare industry is something Republicans should pursue, considering the amount of waste and inefficiency that harms millions of Americans every year. The media attempts to portray Republicans as caring little about healthcare costs and the people affected by them, but, interestingly enough, the Trump administration has recently taken a big step at achieving such reform.
In a new Health and Human Services rule that was passed in May but is now making the news since it became effective in July, drug companies are forced to display drug prices in all of their television commercials. Now, there is a good debate to be had on whether this violates Free Speech rights, but the underlying policy is transparency in pricing, giving normal citizens more knowledge about what their drugs and medical procedures will cost them.
As anyone who has ever dealt with a health insurance company or hospital knows, prices are both incredibly expensive and vary wildly between hospitals. If you pay in cash, as anyone who has a high deductible plan probably has, the prices get a large cut for reasons that most people just do not understand. Should you have to use insurance, say for a surgery or an expensive procedure, those same prices may double or even triple when covered by insurance. Should you ask for the upfront price of any procedure or drug, they often cannot tell you, leaving the consumer confused and in the dark. This also eliminates the healthy competition that most other industries have, which lowers prices, raises wages, and generally provides a better experience for the consumer.
Republicans focus on a strategy that provides a market-based alternative to the Democrat’s radical plan of improving the state of healthcare, improving transparency in the system by informing citizens about the prices they pay for the procedures and drugs they need. But that’s not the only thing that Republicans can do to help. Allowing health insurance plans to be purchased across state lines would also be a worthwhile goal, furthering the competition in the market that would inevitably bring prices down. We should also not forget about expanding health savings accounts, allowing people to prepare themselves for healthcare costs by putting money in a tax-free savings account that can only be used on healthcare, giving people the option to exercise more control over their costs.
Whichever direction Republicans decide to go, history makes this clear: we need to offer an alternative to Democratic policies so voters can make a clear choice.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.