Governor Mike Huckabee offers some ideas for reforming health care while avoiding the failure-waiting to happen plan that is being pushed through Congress by the Democratic leadership and the Obama administration.

The American people know that one of the most basic things we need to do as a nation is to teach preventative health care measures in schools and to parents and families. The key to improving health in America is to create an atmosphere of healthy behavior. Teaching young children how to take care of their bodies and teaching young parents and families the importance of healthy diet and exercise is a starting point. We need to get our kids out of the habits of eating unhealthy foods and sitting for hours in front of the television or computer. Changing the collective attitude of the American people is vital. We need to give people information that changes the way they think about an issue.

Your health is like a dashboard. If the only thing you ever look at is your speedometer, and you don’t bother to look at the oil gauge and the water gauge, you can get into serious trouble. You may think, “hey, I’m going the speed limit” but that’s not the point. That’s how fast your car is going, not how well it’s running. Health is the same way – you can’t just focus on weight – you need to look at your cholesterol levels, hemoglobin AIC, blood sugar and blood pressure as well.

No, preventative health care measures won’t reduce the cost of health care, at least for a generation, but it is a necessary step. We must also take steps to reduce the costs of employer provided health care. Our businesses can’t compete in a global market when they face demands from employees for more and more coverage without any regard for the costs. That is simply human nature – when a person isn’t paying for something, they want the very best they can get. I believe that we must transition from an employer based system to a consumer based system.

Right now, health care in America is reactive and is geared towards intervening in catastrophic situations. We should be focusing on preventing those situations from occurring. The whole system is upside down. It’s like our government is focused on putting Humpty Dumpty back together again instead of keeping him from falling off the wall. Our healthcare system is based on a broken egg concept.

Tax credits, reform of medical liability, adopting electronic record keeping, expanding health savings accounts, making health insurance tax deductible, and making health insurance more portable from one job to another, and from state to state all will help lower costs and make health insurance more affordable. We don’t need all the government controls that would inevitably come with universal health care. We do need more individual control of health care options.

These are good ideas and they take a swing at some of the reasons why our health care system is broken.  We do need more individual control and this would bring about significant reform, and reform is definitely needed.  I disagree with the mantra that has been floating around out there that “health care is a luxury, not a right.” 

Well, it isn’t a right per se, but I wouldn’t call it a luxury either.  It is a necessity.  Because you honestly wouldn’t call it a “luxury” if you had cancer, or rheumatoid arthritis for instance.  There are people who do need it, but can’t afford individual health insurance.  Those plans normally won’t cover pre-existing conditions (we’ll help cover your medical costs except the ones that you’ll actually have).

However, having an individual plan that you keep, that is tax deductable or you are given a tax credit for would help.  Even having an HSA to help cover costs of conditions not covered would help.

There are a number of things that the government and our society can do to address this this problem, but it is unlikely that we have the collective will do to so.

Change is needed, but not the kind of change that is being promoted at the moment.

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