Last Updated:November 27 @ 10:50 am

Rasmussen: To Fix Health Care System, Put Consumers in Charge

By Scott Rasmussen

Democrats were riding high in the polls in 2006 and 2008, and one of their big issues was health care. Then, after passing the president's health care law, the politics shifted, and the issue helped sweep the GOP to victory in the 2010 midterm elections. A few months later, Republicans had a 14-point advantage in terms of voter trust on the health care issue.

Then, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan introduced his health care plan, and the lead disappeared. Neither party has an advantage on the issue now.

President Obama's plan is unpopular, and most want to see it repealed. Ryan's plan is unpopular, and few want to see it enacted. Both plans are unpopular because neither one puts consumers in charge of their own health care decisions. More than anything else, that lack of consumer control is the root cause of the health care problems facing our nation today.

Americans now pay a smaller share of their disposable income on out-of-pocket medical care than they did in 1960. Nearly nine out of every 10 dollars spent on medical care coverage is paid by either an insurance company or the government. Since someone else is paying the bills, someone else ends up making the big decisions about things that affect every individual's health care.

That is precisely what most Americans want to change. No one wants their health care choices being made by government officials, insurance companies or their employer. People want to make those important decisions themselves.

Putting consumers in charge would require pretty radical change, but it's the type of change voters could support. For example, consider a fairly typical situation where a company provides health insurance coverage for its workers. Rather than letting the company choose the plan, 82 percent believe that each worker should be allowed to use that money to pick his or her own insurance plan. If that plan ends up costing less than the official company plan, most believe the worker should be allowed to keep the change.

But giving consumers control of the money doesn't mean much unless they have a variety of competing insurance plans to consider. Three out of four voters think it's time to end the antitrust exemption granted to health insurance companies. Why? By a three-to-one margin, voters believe that increased competition among insurance companies would do more to reduce costs than increased government regulation.

Voters also want to rein in the government bureaucrats. Rather than letting the government define a one-size-fits-all insurance plan, 77 percent think individuals should have the right to choose between plans with a mix of higher deductibles and lower premiums or the reverse. Seventy-eight percent  believe everyone should have the choice between more expensive plans that cover every medical procedure and lower cost plans that cover only major medical procedures.

To insure adequate choices, voters overwhelmingly believe that everyone should be allowed to buy insurance policies across state lines and that everyone should be able to purchase the same insurance coverage provided for members of Congress. Recognizing the importance of consumer incentives, most also believe insurance companies should be allowed to offer discounts to those who take care of themselves by exercising, eating well and not smoking.

Putting consumers in charge threatens the status quo in Washington, but it will give Americans a more responsive, less expensive system of medical care.




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  1. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    July 6, 2012 @ 8:51 am

    When will you people quit buying into the delusion that someone else is paying for your Health Care! YOU ARE! You and your children are paying for it on borrowed money with interest piling high as your Liberal Progressive Government is emptying out your Social security accounts that they use as a slush fund and cash cow that has been cleaned to the bare bones. They have been taking your Social Security money from the fund and leaving blank I.O.U.s in order to finance their failed social experiments to buy your votes with your own borrowed money that will not ultimately bankrupt American but has ALREADY bankrupted America.

    Obama can spout all he wants about America being the richest nation in the world and every American has a right to affordable healthcare, but he is a LIAR. America is now the largest debtor nation in the world who can only get away with the financial profligacy because the American dollar is used as the world currency and we think we can print our way out with devalued money, devalued homes, and devalued America.

    The day is coming when China and Europe will no longer take our worthless dollars as payment and then the game will be over, which it already is, except not even the Conservative Republicans will admit to it, and also continue to take a hand in the delusional enablement of our destruction by acting like it’s business as usual. Romney had better wake up and attack the real enemy that stands before us and our children, which is our ballooning Debt and the ability of politicians to delude the people that they can continue to spend more than they produce with no personal consequences down the line. Obama Care is just one more government pig in a Polk porking of America where people think they are getting something for nothing where personal responsibility is abrogated to an impersonal government whose cumulative irresponsibility becomes the sum of all our economic fears.

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    • cxComment by genesal
      July 6, 2012 @ 9:00 am

      The bill is coming due way sooner than we expect it to.

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    • Blu OwenComment by Blu Owen
      July 6, 2012 @ 11:41 am

      Inluminatuo, I can completely agree with your sentiment. Although, what probably irritates you and me both is the pundits that constantly site the preamble of the Constitution to justify this monstrosity. The preamble states “promote the general Welfare” whereas this law PROVIDES the general welfare. Do they not know or understand the english language.
      Congress should, to promote the welfare of the people, establish guidelines which the States are required to follow to insure there are non government entities that shall provide a basic medical insurance coverage program available to all residents regardless of age or present health that covers pregnancy, major illness’ or diseases, and such preventative care for any life endangering illness or disease.
      By approaching the subject in this manner it gets rid of almost all of the BS found in Obamacare and gives Americans what they want, a basic healthcare insurance policy.

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  2. mudguyComment by mudguy
    July 6, 2012 @ 9:39 am

    The Republicans need to start telling the American what is really in the Obamacare the so called health care reform. Not just saying that they will repeal all of it and start tell us what and how they will replace it with.

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  3. prairelivingComment by praireliving
    July 6, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

    When we had a high deductible policy I found it very interesting that I was able to much better negotiate our bills and restrain the amount of tests. I had a child with a food allergy and initially the allergist said we had to test for everything, it would cost the insurance company over $1000. I said that we would find another allergist since I knew what my daughter could eat without a reaction and we only felt we needed to confirm the allergy we suspected. He relented and we paid for the tests out of pocket…they came to $250. So, if we’d been in an HMO or other co-pay plan the insurance would have been paying $750 for absolutely no good reason. I’ve had othe instances of similar situations.

    Only because I was going to pay for more of the care myself was I able to control the costs.

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  4. BillzillaComment by Billzilla
    July 6, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

    Tort reform would go a long way towards reducing the costs of health care. It would also reduce a lot of the tests doctors give us when they practice “defensive” medicine.

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  5. agent007Comment by agent007
    July 6, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    Mr Rasmussen hits on a very important point. I will attempt to put into words what I feel is the big kicker here!

    1. Health Costs need to be controlled.
    2. Competition between Insurance Companies should bring costs down and provide more choices for the consumers.
    3. Since consumers currently don’t have that level of choice, and the Insurance Cies profit from high healthcare costs, they do NOTHING to push the Health Care Providers to work towards cost control.
    4. They are ‘in bed’ with the Health Care Providers, until the moment that they have to fight for the business from consumers, at that point they will be forced into pushing the Health Care Providers for lower priced contracts, which will bring down the overall costs!

    Just my 2 cents, let me know your reaction.

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  6. ousaouComment by ousaou
    July 7, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

    The cost of medical care is twisted by the liabilities associated with providing health care and the drugs. My experience is formal, my medication for glaucoma cost in Texas $106 per month and the very same medication from the same laboratory, but made in Belgium rather that US made cost me $26.00 in Thailand. I can attest that this medication works, my Glaucoma is under control.
    Providing any medical care has an inherent risk. After all crossing the street has an inherent risk as well. The liability is distributed according to principals that are totally out of control. It appears to me that if there is a medical malpractice, the payoff should never accede the defendant earnings for his or her life time paid on monthly bases. Any cost associated with the medical conditions should be assumed by the guilty party.
    There is no reason that someone becomes a multi-millionaire because he lost as eye, for example. But he should not lose his or her life style which he benefited at the time of the malpractice. This can of liability distribution would lower medical care by 40% if not more.

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