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A few ideas regarding affordable health insurance

I don't want to be one of those opposed to health care..insurance..evil company..whatever reform without bringing something to the table, and I think few argue that we should keep the system the way it is. Here are just a few ideas, from my perspective and limited experience, on improving our health care system without nationalizing the system.

1. Tort reform

This is number one in my mind. Lawsuits are often brought against doctors and hospitals in the hopes that they will be settled, and they generally are. We should not take away the right to sue, but the damages imposed need to be limited, and there should be consequences for frivolous lawsuits, such as the petitioner being held responsible for reasonable attorney's fees.

2. Impose new regulations on insurance companies that foster competition

The government should impose new regulations on all health care insurance companies that will foster competition. These should include the abolishment of open enrollment, the discontinuation of group rates for entities such as employers, a standardized insurance plan or set of insurance plans, standardized claim forms, standardized accessible medical records, and instant claim decisions.

There are many aspects of health insurance that cater to a big few. It's tough to start an insurance company unless you have large contracts with big employers. Anyone should be able to easily contact any insurance company and get coverage. Employers and the like should not be favored and given a special rate.

All forms need to be standardized across the industry so there is no difference, and a hospital or medical facility can easily work with any insurance company. There needs to be a fast quote system for procedures, so patients can easily shop around, and there needs to be a fast claim service for medical facilities.

If at all possible, and it is, all of this should be online and accessible 24/7, including medical records.

3. Impose new regulations on hospitals, doctors and other medical facilities

The amounts charged to insurance companies should be recorded and compared, with the medical facilities being fined for over charging.

I'm not exactly sure how this would be implemented, but when a massage therapist charges an individual $60.00 for an hour long massage, but bills an insurance company $120.00 for the same massage, there is something wrong. I would like to see some system, incentive based or otherwise, that would lessen this disparity.

This would lower the costs for insurance companies, and consequently the public.

4. A standardized, basic plan required by all insurance companies

This plan would have basic coverage, would be identical across all insurance companies, could have a waiting period but would not require an exam and could not discriminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

This will help foster competition.

5. The government should offer tax breaks to low income people to cover the payment of this basic plan

This will help the poor pay for health insurance.

6. The government should offer free, tax payer subsidized, basic, preventative services such as immunizations

There is no reason these basic preventative services, such as flu shots and yearly physical exams cannot be paid for by the government.

7. More taxes on insurance companies to pay for the basic coverage offered by the government

A scale of increasing taxes on insurance company's profits should be introduced, with the goal of taxing the most profitable.

8. Tax incentives for insurance companies that cover the most low income customers

Tax breaks should be given to insurance companies that carry the greatest number of low income or risky patients.

9. Change bankruptcy laws for medically related debt

Bankruptcy laws should be changed for medically related debt. Perhaps a 3 strike system, or government funds to reimburse a percentage of costs in the case of catastrophic illness.