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Healthcare rationing: Real scary

Concerns about government bureaucracies gaining oversight of your treatment are not misplaced. We need reforms, but the answer is not central planning.

August 16, 2009|Newt Gingrich | Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is founder of the Center for Health Transformation.

Here is one example. There are more than 1,300 health insurance companies in this country, but currently, consumers can buy only a product licensed in each individual state. Creating a nationwide health insurance market where any individual or group can shop for less expensive coverage from another state would provide more choices, forcing private plans to create better products, improve services and lower prices.

We must also equip individuals with information on healthcare cost and quality. Releasing the Medicare-claims history of doctors and hospitals (with patients' personal information removed) would give Americans more knowledge to choose the most efficient institutions, practitioners and the most effective treatments. Inexplicably, this taxpayer-funded data remain locked away.

Of course, some Americans also need financial resources to pay for their healthcare choices. Tax credits are one way to help consumers purchase private healthcare coverage, or we could allow individuals to deduct the cost of insurance they purchase, just as employers do now. These are just some solutions to create competition to drive down costs while increasing quality.

There is no doubt that we badly need to improve our healthcare system. I welcome the comprehensive debate now taking place across the country on how to accomplish this goal. But reform must empower individuals, not government.

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