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Monday, October 05, 2009

Small Biz Health Care Daily: A Governor on Health Care Reform

In an op-ed in the October 5 Washington Post, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) lays out some ideas and principals for health care reform.

Here are a few key items that would be big plusses:

• “Portability: As people change jobs or move across state lines, they change insurance plans. By allowing consumers to ‘own’ their policies, insurers would have incentive to make more investments in prevention and in managing chronic conditions.”

• “Lawsuit reform: It makes no sense to ignore one of the biggest cost drivers in the system -- the cost of defensive medicine, largely driven by lawsuits. Worse, many doctors have stopped performing high-risk procedures for fear of liability.”

• “Tax-free health savings accounts: HSAs have helped reduce costs for employers and consumers. Some businesses have seen their costs decrease by double-digit percentages. But current regulations discourage individuals and small businesses from utilizing HSAs.”

Others that Jindal listed warrant more in-depth exploration and debate, such as the following: “Require coverage of preexisting conditions: Insurance should not be least accessible when it is needed most. Companies should be incentivized to focus on delivering high-quality effective care, not to avoid covering the sick.” How exactly would that work? Is Jindal talking about state high risk pools, or simply more mandates and regulations that drive up costs for all?

He also calls for the following: “Reward healthy lifestyle choices: Providing premium rebates and other incentives to people who make healthy choices or participate in management of their chronic diseases has been shown to reduce costs and improve health.” Is this something that government should be involved in? Why? Isn’t it better left to decisions made in the marketplace?

Raymond J. Keating
Chief Economist
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

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