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Consumer-Driven Health Reform at Risk

Consumer-Driven Health Reform at Risk
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A number of consumer-friendly changes to health insurance are in danger of being reversed. We must protect them. Action Alert! 

We at ANH have written numerous articles on the burdensome regulations that prevent a consumer-friendly health insurance marketplace from developing. Over the last few years, a number of reforms have been accomplished that loosen the straight-jacket the Affordable Care Act has put us in to allow more choice in healthcare. We must demand that these changes be cemented into law.

In an excellent article, John Goodman of the Goodman Institute points out a number of these reforms that have bipartisan support. Most of these have been accomplished through executive order or other administrative action, which means they can be reversed.

For many of us, fewer choices and higher premiums have characterized the healthcare marketplace since the Affordable Care Act was passed. These reforms give us more choice and flexibility with regard to healthcare.

Telehealth is a key example, which we’ve covered previously. Telehealth lowers healthcare costs, since telehealth visits are inherently less expensive than in-person visits. There are a number of bills in Congress that seek to make permanent changes in the rules to allow more access to telemedicine (currently, many of these changes are in response to the pandemic and could revert back once the public health emergency it is over). We noted that there are also pushes to mandate that insurers reimburse for telemedicine at the same rate as in-person visits (called payment parity). These crony price-fixing schemes are designed to thwart competition and keep healthcare costs high, and must be opposed.

Price transparency has also been required of hospitals, per an executive order. This is a crucial reform: hospitals are a crony capitalist mess and charge vastly different prices for the same services—even facilities in the same area. This much-needed reform will allow consumers to avoid hospitals charging extortionist prices. We must make sure it is codified into law.

A number of other key reforms introduce flexibility and consumer choice into health insurance. For example, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) were expanded to make it easier for HSA holders to get treatments for chronic illnesses covered. Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) were also expanded under an executive order to allow employers to give tax-free money to employees to buy their own insurance.

Other reforms extend healthcare options that are free of Obamacare restrictions, give states flexibility to reform their own healthcare markets, expand specialized health plans that offer insurance to patients with a particular disease, and expand access to direct primary care (also called concierge medicine).

Significant steps have been taken to allow more consumer-driven healthcare options to flourish. But this still all takes place in the context of a crony medical system in which the government is gagging doctors for talking about supplement benefits, attacking homeopathic medicine, and on the verge of banning estriol. Help us fight for real healthcare reform.

Action Alert! Write to Congress and tell them to cement recent gains in healthcare reform. Please send your message immediately. By sending this message, you will also be supporting our petition to ungag doctors so that they can share with patients the benefits of supplements and natural treatments for COVID.

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