Fix health care? Eliminate the middleman!

Here’s an idea that I’ve been bouncing around in my head:

It’s a variation on the theme of “medical spending accounts.”

The idea is that people can put as much money as they want into the account, and all of that money (less some small amount for administration) is available to them for health care. Anything over can be used for other people’s health care–and the “donor” gets a tax deduction or some other economic incentive for donating.

The clearinghouse organization doesn’t make decisions regarding health care–the doctor and the patient do.

Doctors, as part of the moral obligation of “informed consent,” will have to reveal to their patients the cost of the procedures the doctor is ordering. The clearinghouse organization can help with that, keeping track of what’s being charged for those services over time.

As I mentioned before, if a person doesn’t have enough in his or her account to afford the service, then there are choices to be made. First, the doctor (or other health care provider) can lower their price. The patient can decide that the service is too expensive. OR, the other people who have put money into the program can decide to help the patient out, financially.

This used to be called “charity” and was generally considered to be a Good Thing For People To Do.

The thing is, that this charity would be voluntary. Nobody would force you to do a good thing. But since it’s human nature to need the occasional prod towards doing that right thing, there needs to be some kind of additional economic incentive for people to do this.

What I would do is take every dollar volunteered for charity straight off the top–make it a 1-for-1 deduction on taxes owed. So, basically, people could choose to fund the government, or to fund other people’s health care expenses.

This seems to me to be much more straightforward and honest than anything being talked about in Washington right now.

Simple. Doctor. Patient. Bare-bones clearinghouse to track prices, and to match needy patients with people who have the money to help them.

No guns, no coercion.

Voluntary. (Except for passing the laws that would make this system legal, of course.)