A new healthcare proposal, which was a focal point of last year’s presidential election, seems closer than ever to becoming reality, regardless of the catastrophic impacts it will have on America’s health care consumers. The proposal—commonly called the public option—would create government-run health care insurance with the goal of increasing coverage and lowering health care costs.
Greater government intervention is not a cure to what ails our nation’s healthcare system. I know from firsthand experience. I run a program that fulfills the needs of people like those who are most likely to enroll in a public option program. The program, called Sedera, is an innovative non-insurance solution for managing large and unexpected medical expenses through medical cost-sharing. All Sedera community members share their resources, including funding, expertise, and an interwoven community of support, together to ensure they all have access to the highest quality medical care at the best price. This is a dynamic that could hardly be replicated by an exorbitant federal bureaucracy. Both the U.K., our favored partner in Europe, and Canada, our closest neighbor to the north, already show the massive waiting lists and aging buildings and equipment that characterize the single-payer system.
The very existence of the Sedera program defeats the premise that working-class people cannot afford health insurance and therefore cannot afford healthcare. Through Sedera, more than 40 million dollars in medical expenses have been paid for our community members. That translates into 100 percent of our community members’ medical needs being paid as per our guidelines and all of this has been possible without traditional health insurance.
Through faith in each other and in our community, our organization has proven that the social duties of voluntariness, integrity, honesty and personal responsibility are vastly superior at serving human needs than well-intentioned but misguided government mandates or programs. Interestingly, we can do this at substantially less than the cost of government-mandated health insurance. The free market, when unfettered, can provide better access to health care, greater quality, and lower cost!
Based on these values, I believe Americans should support a personal healthcare option, rather than a public option. The personal option, as proposed by the national grassroots organization Americans for Prosperity, recognizes the sanctity of individual freedom and trusts people—not politicians or government bureaucrats—to decide what is best for themselves and their families. Personal option reforms would remove government-instituted barriers and allow new services and greater access to healthcare by allowing medical professionals to provide services commensurate with the full extent of their training, and to practice when and where they are needed.
An individual’s or family’s voluntary decision to become a part of a community is the strongest bonding agent known to man and is the backbone of our great nation. The impersonal nature of a government-run system that attempts to fulfill the functions of already existing organizations like Sedera is detrimental to community building and trust, which are prerequisites to a healthcare system that works.
Beyond the component of social duty and integrity, the public option lacks the logistical and fiscal integrity to be self-sustaining. Many of Sedera’s community members go to rural or financially struggling hospitals when they require medical attention. Our organization always pays these hospitals a full, fair price. However, like Medicare and Medicaid, the public option proposals that have been championed would require these hospitals to perform the same services while forcing them to accept a mere fraction of what they typically charge for said services.
According to the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, “As many as 55 percent of rural hospitals, or 1,037 hospitals across 46 states, could be at a high risk of closure under the public option.”
When including those deemed to be at moderate risk of closure, up to 96 percent of rural hospitals could be at risk of halting services to their communities under a public option. Rural, working-class, and poor Americans—those who proponents of the new government-run system say need this change the most—are most likely to be negatively impacted by the public option.
With already functioning organizations like Sedera successfully filling the alleged void that proponents of the public option highlight, a new, expensive, and inefficient program run by the federal government will do more harm than good. Instead of turning to a program destined for failure, Americans should embrace the personal option, which will provide the choice and innovation we all yearn for, the affordability we need, the quality we deserve, and the access to the medical professionals we know and trust.