Medical Savings Accounts
” Government Watch: The Right Plan to Support”
Copyright Salvatore J. Durante, DDS, FAGD, 1993. Published in GP: The Journal of the New York State Academy of General Dentistry, March 1993.
Washington may soon make all of us criminals–as patients and as doctors, if we seek care that is above government standards, or if we provide such care. All of the reform plans that I am aware of, save one, further infringe on the freedoms of Americans in the name of cost containment and/or increased access to care. Clinton’s clearly is the worst. Its effect on dental care was covered in several of my recent Government Watch columns, especially the most recent, “ADA Encourages Washington to Impose Price Controls on Dentists” (http://doctordurante.com/wordpress/3-articles-on-the-american-dental-association/). Its effect on us–as patients–is even more immediate and far worse.
The National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) rated eight plans under consideration in Congress as of this writing. To help one get a quick sense of each plan’s effect on freedom, the NTUF provides “counts” of words that suggest government restriction or punishment. In Clinton’s plan, for example, the word “enforce” is used 83 times; “fine” is mentioned 6 times; “limit,” 231 times; “penalty,” 111 times; “prohibit,” 47 times; “require,” 901 times; and the word “prison” is mentioned 7 times. Perhaps the most telling new crime under Clinton’s proposal is “bribery in connection with health care.” Despite Clinton’s denials, he clearly knows that his plan would lead to rationing, and therefore to patients attempting to bribe doctors with their own money to provide care that is not allowed under government parameters. The other plans being discussed are not as restrictive–initially. The common plan of treatment, if you will, is to administer more government regulations, oversight and control; individual plans differ on the particular regulations and edicts, and how much, how fast.
ADA policy on health-care reform is in a constant state of flux. Serious blunders have been made, and regular readers of this column know that the ADA is responsible for the inclusion and proposed regulation of pediatric dental care (under 18 years of age) and some adult care under the Clinton proposal. After the Clinton plan was finalized, the ADA once again changed its policy: it no longer supports mandatory care for all children, only for the indigent and on a sliding scale. Its main focus now is to maintain the tax deductibility of health-care premiums. The AGD has adopted the ADA’s policy as its own. In short, organized dentistry has not produced a plan to save dentistry from the government regulatory octopus, and actually advocates expansion of government programs for certain sectors of the population despite all evidence that such programs must lead to total control by the government.
Thankfully, there is now a group with a health-care reform plan that actually recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals–both patients and doctors–in the realm of medical care. The group is Americans for Free Choice in Medicine (AFCM), and their plan is Health-care Access for Everyone for Life and Personal Security (HELP). It is truly a free-market approach to health-care reform. From AFCM’s executive summary of HELP: “Most people who assert that a health-care crisis exists do so by creating the impression that individuals who lack insurance have no access to health care. The fact is, however, that access to the best care in the world is denied to no one in America. By contrast, people in countries with government-run medicine which supposedly covers them 100% are actually denied access to medical care every day. . . . Our plan’s overriding principle is respect for human life through preservation of individual liberty. The plan’s basic goal is to return to the individual the right to decide how any money spent to provide for his/her medical care will be spent. . . .”
The HELP plan is comprehensive, and if adopted we will be spared the now-common spectacle of politicians and bureaucrats franticly trying to undo the damage caused by previous rounds of health-care regulation by imposing more regulations. Among its solutions are:
“1. Tax Policy: All medical-related expenses will be tax deductible to the individual.
“2. Individual ownership of health policy. . . .
“3. Medical Savings Accounts: Individuals can save tax-deductible dollars in a tax-free account to pay for current and future medical expenses.
“4. Privatization of all government programs: The principle of Medical Savings Accounts will be applied to Medicare and Medicaid.
“5. Resurrection of private charity: Charity will be allowed to re-emerge and so take over the role improperly occupied by the government for the past 30 years.
“6. Liberalization of licensing and deregulation of all aspects of medical care. . . .
“7. Malpractice reform. . . .”
From the AFCM Mission Statement: “With these measures alone [numbers 1- 4 above], only 5 to 10 percent of medical transactions will require third-party payment. Managing care will return to the patients in consultation with their physician of their choosing. No longer will bureaucrats be making these medical decisions. Free choice will provide better care for patients, more access to doctors, lower costs, less paperwork, better technology, competitive pricing of services, and so on. . . .”
I have examined the HELP plan and Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. They are absolutely right and I fully endorse their efforts. While organized dentistry fights for continued tax deductibility of insurance premiums, they should look at AFCM and HELP. They need our support and we desperately need their HELP.
AFCM can be reached at 949-645-2622, firstname.lastname@example.org, and at http://www.afcm.org/