Trump’s Wreck of a Platform(Conclusion: The Slapdash Health Plan)
Like some other conservatives, Trump doesn’t approve of Obamacare, stating that he will “immediately deliver a full repeal of [it]” by the end of his first day in office. In its stead, he promises to use free market principles to broaden health care, simultaneously making it cheaper and higher in quality. However, will the steps he has outlined really achieve these goals?
His first idea is a Republican staple: allow insurance providers to sell health insurance across state lines. The rationale is that if anyone can sell to anyone; competition would work its course, and insurance premiums would end up costing less. Furthermore, since different states have different regulations, consumers in a more tightly-regulated state could buy a plan out of state, saving additional cash. However, there is a major flaw in this plan. To ensure that customers can use their health insurance, insurance companies need to set contracts with enough hospitals in an area. That’s the difficult part; even though some states allow these out-of-state plans, most insurance companies are unwilling to take them up on their offer. If anything, this sort of plan supports monopolization, as larger insurance providers are the ones with the resources to expand to multiple states. And of course, monopolization means price control and possibly more costly insurance, both of which are the opposite of what Trump promises.
His next two points are a little ridiculous: make health insurance premiums fully tax deductible, and change the rules with Health Savings Accounts(HSAs). First of all, large premiums are already deductible. Second of all, Trump isn’t really changing HSAs. They’re basically special savings accounts: put some money in every year, let it grow, and take some out for any hospital-related expenses. Anyone can make one, and putting money in and taking money out is tax-free. Most of Trump’s proposed changes wouldn’t change HSAs whatsoever. However, he did have the interesting idea of classifying HSAs as part of one’s estate, meaning they could be passed down to future generations.
Another thing Trump advocates for is price transparency, which is only useful to some degree. In an emergency, who’d check their phone for the cheapest hospital? Any reasonable person would speed to the nearest hospital. Additionally, some minor illnesses turn out to be fairly serious diseases, which defeats the purpose of price transparency. While all patients should get accurate price estimates for treatments, complete price transparency is not necessarily in the best interest of the patient.
A Bernie Sanders-like strategy Trump wants to implement is importing drugs. This plan is surprisingly intelligent; as long as the imported drugs meet the appropriate standards, there is no reason to keep them off the American market. To go even further, FDA regulations could be loosened so new drugs could be sold to customers more quickly. On average, it takes roughly ten years for a drug to be approved for prescription. Even a miracle drug that could cure cancer or HIV would take at least one or two years to be widely available. If regulations weren’t so strict, the people would have a better chance to access newer, better drugs.
One more problem with Trump’s health care plan is that he ignores Medicare and Social Security entirely, except some vague promises to keep payments steady and then some statements contradicting that. As discussed in previous posts, both are becoming alarmingly expensive, and it should be noted how he has failed to offer any long term solutions.
Overall, Trump’s health care plan, while containing some functional ideas, won’t be better than Obamacare. The bulk of his proposal, allowing insurance providers to sell to inhabitants of any state, is A. Not likely to be utilized by most companies, and B. Potentially allowing larger companies to monopolize the insurance market, which would do the exact opposite of what Trump promises. The rest is just fluff: somewhat creative, but nothing incredible. Ignoring the pressing issues like Medicare and Social Security, Trump’s health care proposal reflects the rest of his platform: ineffective, costly, and definitely not what America needs to become great.