Keeping the Church Out of It



Keeping the Church Out of It

It's fairly simple. Solve the controversy about government mandated contraceptive and abortion coverage in health insurance policies by having each person purchase his or her private, personally selected (no mandates) health plan. If she wants contraception covered, or tubal ligation, or the morning after pill, or none of the above, that's between her and her insurance company and/or physician. The church is out of it.

  Full disclosure here: I'm not Catholic; I'm in favor of contraception; I'm neither pro-life nor pro-abortion; I have no problem with women priests, or non-celibate priests and nuns, or gays; and I'm not against the death penalty. I support none of those strongly conservative religious viewpoints. These issues are between the church and their members and members are free to choose. Even when all those covered aren't Catholics, I support the church's stand against government commands that the church be required to pay for   

  Besides, more commands are to follow from a 2000 page Affordable Health Care Bill that gives power to the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services to make rules and regulations for 300 million people. The first command, that all organizations of a certain size must provide health insurance, has already resulted in thousands of exemptions as has the contraception issue. Even the exemptions are controversial because government is picking the winners and losers.

  These problems are solved by private, individual insurance plans. Each can pick from a so-called cafeteria of coverages (I think federal government workers get this now). If you want everything covered, fine. If not, choose a program to fit your pocketbook. Or, self insure. Or insure only for catastrophic - your determination what is catastrophic - health problems. Pricing would be appropriate for coverage.

  One could insure for unforeseen pre-conditions ( such as having a child with serious health problems). Everything would be portable because it's your insurance. Because the big choices would be between covering everyday health costs such as contraceptives, drugs, annual check ups and major problems such as operations and hospitalization, most would chose coverage for the big items. As a cost saving measure you could choose to do your own paper work.

  The effect would be users of the health system being more cost conscious as well as health conscious. None of that, "oh, well, the insurance company is paying for it". It would make the health system more cost conscious, too, and would result in better health pricing. Certainly people would be more selective about accessing the services.

  Moving from a system where you buy insurance (some do that now) rather than an employer buying it for you might be a bit complicated, but doable. After all, company paid insurance is a part of your salary so the money could come directly to you. If government wanted to help, it could make such payments non-taxable. As for Medicare, it already provides for purchase of supplemental insurance from an all coverage to a non-supplemental coverage.

  Complicated? Possibly. However, when Part D of Medicare - the drug plan - came in, critics said seniors were too confused to handle the choices and complications in the plan. They did quite well, and many are happy with the coverage. Dangerous? I don't think so. Just because government isn't incentivizing (is that a real or a tv word?) certain procedures and preventative measures doesn't mean that individuals will ignore their own health. Indeed, it incentivizes health care providers as well as insurers to confer and persuade patients about wellness measures.

  As an aside, I wonder whether the big "get checked for" movement will be supplanted by selective check ups based upon genetic information. In the meanwhile, having  colonoscopies to prevent cancer has proven to be a life saver. At any rate, based upon the past, we can almost be assured that a large chunk of medical "truth" (as well as procedures)that we believe today will be debunked in the future.

  None of this is uncomplicated nor simple any more than the present system or proposed government system is simple. We're used to the complexity of the present system - and, I don't buy that we don't have good health care - and accept the natural complexity of anything government. A major change to individual policies and individual responsibility won't be any more complex. Health and hospitalization insurance came into being in the 1930s during the depression, to save hospitals and doctors who weren't getting paid. That's an over-simplification, but basically what happened.

  There's neither space, time nor inclination to explore all facets of the system, but I provide this "let individuals have the choice and responsibility" as a bit of thinking outside the box. Certainly, turning the system over to the government is creating a very large in scope, but very small in execution, box.