My Health Plan

Posted by on January 29, 2010 in Uncategorized | 14 comments

We take a break from our regularly-scheduled programming to discuss health insurance.  There's no point rehashing what went wrong.  My question is:  Can we come up with one simple five-point plan and actually get it passed? Can it be simple enough to fit on a single sheet of paper?

Here's mine.  It's under 250 words.  What's yours?

  1. All health insurance companies are required to offer the same plan.  It costs $99 per month for people under 30, and $199 per month for people ages 30-65.  No pre-exisiting condition restrictions, and no cancellation except for non-payment.
  2. The plan has a $10,000 annual deductible.  It's a catastrophic plan intended to cover emergencies and serious illnesses.  However, it does cover one free wellness check-up a year that includes a few basic tests and vaccines.
  3. Everyone who signs up for the plan is automatically enrolled in a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay their basic medical costs.  The monthly premium is paid through the HSA and is tax-deductible.  (HSAs already exist, with rules governing how they operate and limits on annual contributions, but currently the premium is not deductible.)
  4. Anyone can make a tax-deductible contribution to another person's HSA, subject to the annual limits already in place.  Parents, children, siblings, grandparents, employers, churches, community groups, neighbors–if someone wants to help you with your medical bills, they can.
  5. The plan is backed by a federal reinsurance program similar to what the FHA does for home loans.  Insurance companies are unlikely to go broke by offering this plan, but if they did, they'd have backing from the feds.

14 Comments

  1. I like it but it’s oh-so-very unlikely to get any traction because too many people want their toe nail fungus treatments and viagra and cosmetic surgeries to be covered by their insurance.

  2. Interesting concept with a lot of good elements, Amy. But your proposal would actually cost me more than my current HSA plan with a $3400 annual family deductible ($404/month for two 54+ and one 21 yr-old). It would be nice to be able to run my premium through my HSA, which would pretty much bring my federal income tax liability down to zero. I certainly subscribe to the theory that health insurance should be for the catastrophic, major expenses and not be expected to pay for all everyday medical charges. I don’t have a magic answer for what my perfect plan would look like, however.

  3. I’m not suggesting that this be the only plan insurance companies offer, just that they must include this option. It’s not as good as my plan either, but the problem is not those of us who have insurance–the problem is what to do about the uninsured. This is affordable, easy to understand, everyone is eligible, and it covers catastrophes.

  4. I like it — except for the “no pre-existing conditions” line.
    I happen to have systemic lupus, and I’m lucky enough to be healthy enough to work full-time and have good health insurance through work.
    I’m just curious about what your health are plan would do about those people with chronic illnesses (lupus, MS, asthma, etc) or who have had health issues (such as cancer) in the past.

  5. Lynda, “no preexisting conditions” means that the whole idea of preexisting conditions goes away. Everybody gets covered.

  6. Hi Amy,
    I am writing from England. I love it that you are talking about the health plan issue on your gardening blog; absolutely adds another dimension to gardeners that we are not just into cabbages, roses or acers etc.
    Your plan is straightforward and simple. I also think that your govt. should work with the Big Pharmaceuticals to bring down the huge cost of their medication for catastrophic diseases by giving them targetted tax breaks, aimed at the particular medication.

  7. I feel so cynical when reading you plan. The first thought that came to mind was: yeah, right. I’m still clinging to the hope that our cowardly Senate will grow some collective backbone. I’m encouraged that President O seems to be taking the offensive lately. We’re just so polarized by dirty politics and so corrupted by Big Pharma et. al. that it’s hard to keep hoping. But I must.

  8. Thanks for putting your ideas out there. I often find it hard to write about gardening, while I am most of the time fuming about health insurance. One comment though, lets insure all children period. There are a lot of people in our country who could not begin to pay for your plan. A family of four at or near the poverty level would struggle to pay $600 a month.

  9. It’s great you are discussing this…. so important. Thanks

  10. Amy, What is wrong with expanding Medicare to cover everybody? Cover the poor and the vets and we all pay in and receive care. Jobs are created as the system shifts from waste to service as the studies show. The 30% insurance company profits from a system that equates to 17% of the GDP goes into the system as a savings. To hell with the health care deniers. California will eventually pass a single payer system and eventually the country will follow. i hope it doesn’t take 10 years.

  11. My husband & I have a business together & an HSA for insurance. We pay $600/month for coverage, with a $6000 deductible. A $10,000 deductible would be STEEP!! Most of what we use for health care is “alternative” and not covered by the standard BCBS plans, so all of those costs are tax deductible. We use a couple prescription meds and buy them from the UK because they’re HALF price. As much as I’d like to see Medicare For All, our household would still have significant out of pocket expenses for those “alternative” treatments, so an HSA is the best fit for us.

  12. This is a good idea, but for it to work, everyone would need to be on it. Today, many people have a low/no deductible insurance plan, so when they visit dr., they are using someone elses money. Hence, the sky is the limit, and no concern for cost of treatment. If more of us were spending real money at the doctor (i.e. our HSA money, which can be rolled over into retirement account at retirement)competitive pressure would drive costs down, and we would all ask questions about whether a third MRI is really needed when visiting a second Dr. Perhaps we would ask Doctor #2 if he could look at MRI just made by Doctor #1.
    Love your blog. I just found it because I was trying to figure out why my little chickie laid an egg with no shell.
    PJM

  13. The feds can’t even manage their own money. I don’t find the last statement in your article (“Insurance companies are unlikely to go broke by offering this plan, but if they did, they’d have backing from the feds.”) comforting at all.