Augusta Free Press

A simple solution on health-care reform

Column by Robert Dean Banta

With all the details and sideline deal-making of the current health-care reform efforts it seems the answer of how to pay for health care must be much simpler than the tangled spaghetti Congress now twirls their forks around.

In imagining what I want out of health-care reform I have come up with the following idea, which does everything Congress and the president are now trying to do, but just through a much simpler plan. I will call my plan, The Banta Plan, after my last name and with more than a little fun poked at myself.

Under my plan everyone in America would be required to have health care, and we would get to pick from three choices:
· A government health plan (GHP) that would cost 8 percent of an individual or family’s income, capping out at six thousand dollars ($6,000) a year;
· A policy through any health insurance company/cooperative/exchange; or
· A self-insured option.

These plans would go with you, and every health-care provider would have to accept payment from each of the three plans. There are no networks, and claims forms are standardized and simplified.

Within such simplicity everyone is covered, the plans are portable, they compete and the plans pay for themselves.

But wait, there’s more.

This kind of a plan could stimulate the economy. Phase Two of The Banta Plan goes like this: If the GHP starts paying for itself (at 8 percent per household, I believe it would; see the math on my blog), that 1.45 percent in Medicare taxes that every taxpayer and business pays could be repealed.

Just think of the possibilities. Every taxpayer gets an immediate 1.45 percent raise; every business gets a 1.45 percent savings. Then, of course, add on top of that all the thousands of dollars per person that a business pays towards an employee’s health care currently and the boon to the economy would be enormous.

As if that were not enough, the benefits of my plan would not stop there.

The GHP, which would wrap in all Medicare, VA and SCHPS dollars, is receiving the 8 percent per household (for those who choose the GHP). In Phase Two they loose the extra 1.45 percent from individuals and businesses, but there is a chance that the federal government would start saving money on the health-care funds they are paying out.

There is a downside to this plan, and here it is: Health-insurance companies are going to have to learn how to do business with less. They could offer Cadillac plans and the like, but I suspect many people are going to want to pay 8 percent of their household income to be part of the GHP and that number will become the competitive number to beat.

In support of this, I offer the recent PBS “NewsHour” report on the success of the new market-based health-care plan adopted by the Netherlands. The article reported that the average cost of health care for a Dutch citizen is 7 percent of an individual’s income.

Here is the link: www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/july-dec09/netherlands_10-06.html.

There are obviously details that Congress would have to debate and work out, but the basic framework of The Banta Plan seems a better premise than what is currently being wrangled over.

For more details, please see my blog: http://smarthealthcareplan.blogspot.com.