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Novel idea: How about free-market health care?


If there's one good thing about the implementation of Obamacare, it might just be that it opens the door for a conservative, market-based solution. Too often, Republicans have taken a reactionary stance on health care, only arguing in favor of the free market when Democrats threaten to override it. But, as Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Avik Roy write in Reuters today, it's time to get proactive:

While most Americans view their healthcare system as “free-market,” Switzerland actually has the most market-oriented healthcare system in the West. It translates into universal coverage and low entitlement costs. Swiss government entities spent about 3.5 percent of gross domestic product on healthcare in 2010, compared to 8.5 percent in the United States. That’s a difference of more than $5 trillion over 10 years: real money, especially relative to our $16 trillion debt.

There is no “public option” in Switzerland. Instead, citizens qualify for means-tested, sliding-scale subsidies and choose among a variety of regulated, private-sector insurance products. The Swiss have the freedom to choose their own doctors, as Americans do, and access to the latest medical technologies. They also have short waiting times for appointments.

Both Representative Paul Ryan’s “premium support” proposal for Medicare and Obamacare’s exchanges are modeled on the Swiss system. If premium support is a dastardly right-wing plot, despite its origins in Democratic circles, applying Obamacare’s exchanges to Medicare is even more so. After all, Obamacare’s subsidies only apply to those with incomes below four times the federal poverty level: $60,520 for a family of two. By contrast, Medicare subsidies apply to every American over age 65.

Shifting Medicare to the exchanges would save trillions of taxpayer dollars in future entitlement spending. After all, why should middle-class taxpayers be forced to pay for Warren Buffett’s health insurance?

Their whole article is a must-read.  It includes four steps Republicans can take to use Obamacare's health insurance exchanges to reform and fix our nation's health care system -- the conservative way.

Check it out here.

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