Below is a copy of a letter I sent to President Obama. I sent a similar one to Senators Kohl and Feingold and one to Congressman Paul Ryan. I wrote a similar blog post with a little of this outlined, I define it a little better in the letter. I know that this isn’t the full solution, but it is a start. If you agree, feel free to send a copy to your Congressman and Senators. If you don’t agree, feel free to send me an email with your own idea and I’ll post it here. We need to start working together to solve the crisis in our Nation’s healthcare. Further, we cannot afford to seek short-term solutions. With the baby boomers on the verge of retiring, our Nation’s healthcare system will be taxed like it has never been taxed before. We need to start looking to the future. I don’t want this plan to replace employer provided healthcare — it should enhance it.
March 6, 2009
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
Recently, I torn the cartilage in my knee and required surgery to repair it. The total cost of the surgery was roughly $3300. I am a very lucky American in that not only did I have health insurance to cover the majority of my bill, but also I have short-term disability to continue my paychecks rolling in during the two weeks of recovery. Normally, I would not believe that my knee surgery would warrant the attention of the President, but the idea that came to me because of it does.
I know that today you are holding a healthcare forum to come up with an idea to solve our nation’s very real healthcare issues. Unfortunately, I am not going to be there to tell you my idea, so I hope this letter doesn’t reach you too late to do any good. I believe very strongly that the answer to our healthcare problems all ready exists in Health Savings Accounts.
Health Savings Accounts allow people to save for their own healthcare and they do not require anything but the minimum in insurance coverage. Health Savings Accounts (HSA) allow individuals and families to pay for their own healthcare. The advantages are lower premiums for employers. In addition, HSA is not a use it or lose it plan. You can keep the money from year to year.
There are a couple of downfalls to the current HSA legislation.
First, there are maximum pre-tax amounts that seem a little to low for this to work. The current limits are $3,000 for single coverage and $5,950 for a family. I believe the limits should be raised to $7,000 for single coverage and $14,000 for a family. My reasoning is that the more money people save, the more money there will be left once they retire, which would mean less money Medicare will pay in the future.
Second, the individual will have to pay the high price for their healthcare. Remember the $3300 I mentioned earlier for my knee surgery? My insurance company had that amount dropped to around $1000. They paid 90%, which left me a $100 bill for a $3300 surgery. Someone with an HSA would probably not have that option. My solution to this is the same thing insurance companies have been doing. 1. We have out of network doctors and in network doctors. The in network doctors would pay a fee much as they do now to insurance companies. These fees would be used to pay for the administration of the whole process. 2. The government would use the same process of determining rates that insurance companies use now. They average out the rates charged by doctors in certain areas and determine the average. Then, the fee for that service is set.
Now, I’d like to add that this isn’t meant to replace the current health insurance. This could be a lower cost plan for companies that cannot afford the high insurance premiums. I believe that companies must receive some tax benefits for carrying health insurance and I think we should offer a chance to help companies match their employees’ contributions.
I sincerely hope, President Obama, that you are shown this letter. I would be willing to discuss this with you or any member of your staff. Your election has made me believe more than any other time in my adult life that one person can make a difference and change the world. Please know that I always keep you and yours in my prayers.