Home » OP-ED: Rand Paul: U.S. healthcare needs market reforms, not government regulation

OP-ED: Rand Paul: U.S. healthcare needs market reforms, not government regulation

By U.S. Sen. Rand Paul

The majority of Americans did not want Obamacare. This was a fact that Congress couldn’t ignore in the fall of 2009, when representatives got an earful — at town hall meetings, in their offices, in their districts.

Sen. Rand Paul will speak at the Sept. 5 Capitol Connection event in Louisville.
Sen. Rand Paul

But Washington did ignore. It not only ignored the American people, but rolled over them. And, come 2010, ObamaCare passed anyway.

Three years later, a majority of Americans still don’t want the president’s healthcare law. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll showed that 52 percent said they want all or part of ObamCare repealed. A Fox News poll showed that 56 percent want to go back to the health care system that was in place in 2009.

It is no mystery why Americans remain opposed. The more they see and experience the new law, the worse it gets.

Reports released earlier this year by the Congressional Budget Office show that seven million Americans stand to lose their private insurance. Many businesses are expected to simply pay the new federal government penalty — and thus, forgo paying for their workers’ coverage.

This contradicts President Obama’s promise, when he said in 2009: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

The president made another promise, this one during the 2008 campaign: That his plan would bring down premiums. He claimed they would be lowered by as much as $2,500. Instead, premiums have increased on average by more than $3,000. Some expect premiums to rise even higher as more parts of the new law continue to be implemented.

Young people are being asked to shoulder the burden of age rating and cost shifting. For example, one survey of insurers found that if ObamaCare’s rules were fully implemented, the premium for a relatively healthy, 27-year-old nonsmoking male would rise by nearly 190 percent!

According to a new study, the cost of medical care for the typical American family now exceeds the cost of groceries. The annual cost of care for a family of four is now $22,030.

The president’s own Treasury Department admitted in its latest annual Financial Report of the U.S. Government that health care costs will continue to rise. “There is uncertainty about the effectiveness of the ACA’s [Affordable Care Act] provisions designed to reduce healthcare cost growth,” the report said.

None of this surprises me. As a doctor, I have firsthand experience with the many problems facing our healthcare system. Like other areas of the economy where the federal government wields its heavy hand, healthcare is over-regulated and in need of serious market reforms. Government interventions in healthcare have driven up the cost of coverage.

Now, ObamaCare has made things even worse.

Many fear that we have reached a point of no return. But, the realities we face demand that we keep fighting for principles and solutions that will reverse these negative trends.

For many, the purpose of ObamaCare was for more Americans to have insurance. But, instead of dumping a trillion dollars into a broken healthcare system, couldn’t we achieve the same goal by making health insurance work like other kinds of insurance (car, home, etc.)? Shouldn’t we encourage catastrophic insurance for those that didn’t ask for and don’t want comprehensive plans?

There are other, more effective ideas. I have long supported making all medical expenses tax deductible. I support allowing insurance to be bought across state lines. We need tort reform. We should allow all citizens access to Health Savings Accounts by removing the high-deductible insurance policy requirement.

Americans support many of these ideas. Recent polling shows significant majorities favor of allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines. When asked: “What would do more to reduce health care costs — more free market competition between insurance companies or more government regulation?,” Almost two-thirds chose competition; less than a quarter chose more regulation.

As usual, Americans want what Washington will not allow—more freedom to choose and innovate, which will help insure our health care system remains the best in the world. Congress and the President should try a new approach to health care reform: Listening to the American people.