By: State Rep. Wes Culver

The American health care system is ailing and policymakers at the national level are experimenting with various prescriptions trying to determine which one will cure the patient.  If we are not careful though, in our search for a cure we may end up failing to fix what is wrong with the system and harming what is already right with it.  I believe that our health care system can be fixed by giving it a strong dose of patient oriented reform that puts individuals and their doctors at the center of the system and forces third-parties to take a back seat role.  Overreaching federal regulation, heavily regulated insurance companies, and overzealous trial lawyers should not be in the driver’s seat of this vehicle.

For years we have looked on the health care sector as something different and unique from other consumer products or services.  While it certainly possesses dimensions that other sectors do not have, it is not too unique to be exempted from the innovative mindset that has generated advanced technology and better products at a reduced cost in other areas of our economy.  If we can make high quality electronic devices widely available at an affordable price, I think it is time for us to look at harnessing the principles that made that happen and put them to good use lowering the cost of health care and increasing our accessibility to that care.

The problem we must grapple with today in improving our health care system is not one of quality, but of affordability and accessibility.  Today, 85% of Americans are satisfied with the quality of care they receive from doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.  Yet even as the majority of our population approves of the job that our medical professionals and institutions are doing, no one is satisfied with the rising cost of that care.  From 2000 to 2008 the annual cost of employer provided health insurance rose from $6,438 per family to $12,680 per family.   Our nation annually spends $2.4 trillion on health care.

According to the President and Democrat members of Congress, the best way to control rising health care costs and increase accessibility to health insurance is to create a “public option” insurance plan that puts the federal government in charge of your medical care.  Observing the incompetency of Medicaid and the trillions of dollars in unfunded obligations in Medicare, expanding the federal government’s role in the health care sector is a bad idea.  Furthermore, our neighbor to the north, Canada, has been on a sort of public option health care program for decades and they recently concluded that the system has failed and now they are moving away from the direction the President wants to take us.

If the solution offered by Washington, D.C. is wrong, what can we do to fix our health care system?  I am proposing that Indiana do three things at the State level to lower costs, improve accessibility, and advance the quality of care that Hoosiers receive.  First, we should eliminate the mandate that our state places on insurance companies that their health insurance plans contain certain policy elements.  This mandate discourages insurance companies from competing in Indiana and limits Hoosiers to choosing from plans that might not be the best ones for them.  Second, we should allow Hoosiers to buy insurance from companies not located in Indiana and not currently competing in the Indiana insurance market.  By breaking down this barrier that surrounds our state, we can foster a more dynamic and competitive environment that gives Hoosiers access to more affordable health insurance.  Third, we can institute a system that calls for price transparency in all medical procedures.  Just as you expect to know what a particular item or service will cost you in another sector, you deserve to know what a particular health care procedure or service will cost you.

By moving forward at the state level with reforms that do not involve costly, inefficient and wasteful government programs that dictate how much health care you can access, we can make Indiana a leader in the area of affordable health care.  It’s time for us to once again become an innovator and build a better future for ourselves and those who will use the system after us.

State Rep. Wes Culver represents the 49th District in the Indiana House of Representatives.  Any questions or comments about health care can be directed to him by e-mailing healthcare@electwesculver.com.

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