If I were in Charge of Healthcare Reform

I do not envy Barack Obama.  He has a tough job selling healthcare reform to Americans but, quite frankly, he’s doing it wrong. Here are two things I would do if I were running the healthcare reform campaign.

1. Private Healthcare Tax: First and foremost, I would get the real numbers that count.  We have heard a lot of numbers bandied about in Washington as of late.  We’ve heard how much this is going to cost, per year and over 10 years, and the numbers have been huge.  One Trillion Dollars will give anyone pause.  But in reality that is not the cost that is just what we will pay.  We do not know what the actual cost will be because no one has bothered to set the baseline.

If I were in charge I would ask the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), those guys who gave us the $1 Trillion number to begin with, to find out how much we spend on healthcare as a nation today.  Make sure they include:  insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, as well as the costs of treating the uninsured.  Once we have that number, and I would not be surprised if it is also quite large, we will have our baseline, our Private Healthcare Tax.

With this baseline we can make comparisons to the reform plan.   I will also make sure that I use the term Private Healthcare Tax to refer to this baseline whenever I discuss it and I will encourage those around me to use the term as well.  Once we get this Private Healthcare Tax defined and in the minds of the American Public it will become that much easier to explain the benefits of a public plan.

2.  Point out the business side: Let us be honest, unless you work in the healthcare industry our current system is destroying your business.  It wasn’t so bad 20 years ago when most of your competition had to face the same costs and burdens but in our current global marketplace that just is not the same anymore.  Most of the countries we compete with economically have some form of nationalized medical care or public healthcare  which means that while US companies are spending on average 20-30% of their gross on healthcare costs their foreign competitors are spending nothing.  This is, quite frankly, untenable.  Unfortunately this is also something that is being ignored in the current debate.

Here is how I would change the system.  I would file a complaint with the WTO against every country that has a centralized or nationalized healthcare system charging them with unfair competition.  I don’t expect the complaint to be approved since most of the WTO member nations have such systems in place. If it were filed, though, with proper fanfare and was announced to the American Public with something like, “This being our only option to ensure a future for US business if healthcare reform fails” it may just be enough to get people talking and bring the issue to the fore.

I have other ideas but these two should be a good start.