So much of the conversation over the first presidential debate focused on style that a serious point of substance got lost. Namely, what can we do to help all Americans get better health care at a much lower price?
Americans care about the answer. They want lower costs, more choices and access to high-quality care. They want to ensure that everyone, including people with pre-existing conditions, get the care they need when they need it.
What don’t they want? Mandates laid down by government bureaucrats or insurance companies to get in the way of health care decisions that belong to patients and doctors.
They want to be able to keep their health coverage and doctors when they change or lose their job.
They want transparency. Health care and drug prices should be made public so you know what you’ll pay before you buy it – effectively eliminating surprise medical bills.
The conservative plan for health reform would also make tele-health permanent. That way, you can talk virtually with your health care providers from anywhere that works best for you and your family.
The conservative health plan would also give you better options, lower premiums and better access to doctors — especially if you get sick, have pre-existing conditions, and need financial help.
The Trump administration has already taken some helpful steps. Its first target was rolling back Obamacare. Beginning with the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate, President Trump has provided relief from government red tape.
The administration also signed legislation rolling back cost-increasing mandates like Obamacare’s health insurance and medical device taxes. They made it easier to get care across state lines by cutting red tape on telehealth; and gave states more flexibility to run their individual markets while better protecting people with high health costs.
Finally, President Trust has expanded health reimbursement arrangements to allow employers to help pay for their employees’ individual health plan premiums with pre-tax funds.
What a contrast to what Americans have gotten over the past decade under Obamacare: higher costs, fewer choices, and less access to care.
Advocates claimed Obamacare would lower costs. Instead, according to Heritage Foundation research, average premiums in the individual health insurance market more than doubled between 2013 and 2018, with premiums tripling in some states. At the same time, deductibles also rose significantly – an average increase of 21 percent between 2014 and 2019.
These higher costs are a direct result of Obamacare’s structure, which gives more taxpayer money to insurance companies every time they raise prices. That upward trend has slowed, but only after President Trump provided regulatory relief so people had better options.
So what exactly did Obamacare’s giveaways to big insurance buy us? Fewer choices. According to Heritage’s research, the number of participating insurers in the Obamacare market has dropped by half while the number of people dependent on government-run health care significantly increased.
And the law’s cost-increasing mandates drove insurers to narrow their networks, restricting patients’ ability to see the doctor of their choice. As economist John Goodman points out, that actually made the situation worse for people with pre-existing conditions, because it made it harder for them to access the best care.
The Democrats’ answer to these facts? A fear campaign and more big government. Democrats are funding an ad campaign suggesting that a vote to re-elect President Trump is a vote to take away your health care, end Obamacare and “rip away protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions like COVID-19.”
This is nonsense. Even Democrats have acknowledged Obamacare is failing – because they want to replace it or add to it with more big-government takeovers of your health care. No matter what they call it – “public option” or “Medicare for All” – their ideas lead to the same place: more government control of your health care decisions, fewer choices, and higher costs.
Americans can do better than that. We should reject attempts by the Left to double down on bad policy like expanding Obamacare just because it sounds easier. At a time when our country needs more affordable health care, the focus needs to be on real solutions to achieve that goal.
So yes, there’s a conservative health care plan. And it’s one that reflects what Americans want.
Marie Fishpaw is the director of Domestic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Jessica Anderson is the Executive Director of Heritage Action.