As an invited attendee at President Trump’s rollout of his America First Healthcare Plan on September 24, in Charlotte, North Carolina, I have been disappointed with the sparse coverage that the media has given to his innovative plan for the vital issue of health care. Trump himself failed to adequately sing his own praises for his own plan of rational reform during his recent debate with Joe Biden.
Trump’s America First Health Plan would unleash competitive market forces to give people choice in healthcare, while driving down costs and delivering high quality care.
The essential issue in health care, who is in control? Do we want to reinforce the current system of bureaucratic control as would Biden’s plan or do the American people want a system of personalized health care in which patients working with their doctors exercise their own choices?
I worked in Canada’s system of government controlled health care for 13 years. As medical director for diagnostic imaging in a hospital with a catchment area the size of France, our waiting time for a CT scan was seven months. For MRI the wait was 13 months. Part of my job was to triage these wait lists and arbitrate who should be scanned first and who would be made to wait. It was a nightmarish job. I had a hard time sleeping at night deciding people’s fate. It was not uncommon to read a scan and find a massive tumor or out of control infection that had been neglected because I had personally sent them to the end of the line. With government health care, there is no meaningful competition. There is no choice. The country of Canada has one of the highest health care expenditures in the world and the quality of care is abysmal. Trump’s plan has the power to move the US towards greater competition, more choice, lower cost, and excellent care.
The Biden plan, with its Trojan horse strategy of a “public option” subsidized with taxpayer dollars, will incrementally move the US toward a system like Canada’s. On the other hand, the Trump plan will start shifting control of health care dollars away from bureaucrats and into the hands of patients making personalized purchase decisions for both insurance plans and the health care services that they seek.
I have said for years that my dog has the best health insurance in the family. As a very elderly giant bred dog, at extremely high risk for health problems, her insurance premium is a mere $686 per year. When she was a young dog, it was a paltry $140 per year. The average US family now spends more than $20,000 per year for insurance with high deductibles, and that doesn’t even account for Medicare taxes.
Most years, I spend far less than the $1000 deductible on her health care. When she tore a knee ligament a few years ago, insurance covered the vast majority of the costs. Best of all, the check for her care was paid to me, so that even when I made a catastrophic claim, I remained in control of the dollars and was able choose where I spent those dollars. Since veterinary medicine is a direct cash transaction, I handed my payment directly to the lady at the vet’s front desk, unlike the US human health care system that fritters away more than 800 billion dollars per year on the bureaucracy of health care payment. With competition, price transparency, and consumer choice, costs for both veterinary care and insurance are very reasonable.
Even in publicly funded programs, like Medicaid, patients could be given money in Health Saving Accounts, that they own and are motivated to effectively shop for care. In fact, Vice President Pence has done exactly that when Governor of Indiana.
Trump’s America First Health Plan has the power to move us towards a system of personalized health care where the patient is in control of their health expenditures promoting lower costs, more choice and high-quality care. This is a radical departure from the status quo that Biden’s plan reinforces while doing absolutely nothing to deal with the root cause problem in health care, which is that third parties control the dollars rather than first party patients.
Lee Kurisko MD is a Canadian physician specialized in Diagnostic Imaging that has been living and working in Minnesota for the last 18 years. Before moving to the US, he worked in Canada’s system of government health care for 13 years. Formerly a believer in the supposed merit of a government run one-party payer system, he became diametrically opposed to such a plan when he faced the inability of such a system to deliver timely quality health care was Medical Director of Diagnostic Imaging for Thunder Bay Regional Hospital in Thunder Bay, Canada. He now believes that a health care system primarily based on free market principles and charity would be the best for the American public and not “Medicare of All.” True to this belief, along with being a radiologist with Consulting Radiologists Ltd in Minnesota, he is Chief Medical Officer for MediBid.com, an interactive portal for buying and selling medical goods and services without the intrusion of third parties such as government and insurance companies. He authored, “Health Reform – The End of the American Revolution?”. His book explores how the character of America, founded on the values of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, would be fundamentally changed if Americans ever embrace a socialist health care system in which the government would determine the type, quality and amount of health care that they are allowed to have. Dr. Kurisko is now also affiliated with Physicians for Reform and Job Creators Network.