Carson talks health care at Upstate Chamber Coalition summit

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Advocates for health savings accounts and free market for health care

 

On his birthday, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson stopped at the Upstate Chamber Coalition’s Friday health care summit to explain his ideas for American health care reform. Carson addressed everything from access to cost transparency.

When planning health care reform, policymakers must “make sure the peripheral effects are not harmful,” said Carson, referencing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate, which requires a package of coverage beyond a certain number of employees. This requirement has helped stifle small business expansion, he said, which is “one of the reasons that our economy is so stagnant now.”

Long before the ACA, Carson said another problem he recognized was the inordinate amount of influence of insurance companies over people’s health care; “the insinuation of bureaucrats into something so personal and so important.”

He refuted as “propaganda” any public insinuations that he is against health care for poor people. “I’m very much in favor of good health care for everybody. What I don’t like is a two-tiered system where some people are valued and some people are not.”

Health savings accounts are a way for patients to take charge of their health and access care wherever they want, Carson said. He proposed an individual account for everyone and only health insurance for catastrophic issues. Money that normally would go to health insurance premiums for routine care would go into the account and could be shared among family members, he said.

When patients begin to visit the providers of their choice, this will lead to competition among providers and cost transparency, he said. It would “bring the medical industry into the free market.”

To care for the indigent, there are enough funds used to pay for Medicaid that enrollees could join a concierge practice, said Carson. He suggested that those who could not pay for healthcare also have health savings accounts.

Bureaucrats say that people “are too stupid” to manage those accounts, Carson said, but he likened the potential program to food stamps in that participants will quickly learn to manage, such as visiting a clinic for care rather than the emergency room. A patient would then get continuity of care for chronic conditions, he said. Such a system would “help to teach personal responsibility.”

Carson answered audience questions on the role of nonprofits, vaccines and helping to pay for health care for the indigent. He proposed reducing the size of government by not filling the positions of those who retire and asking departments to cut their budgets by three to four percent.

Carson is also speaking at the Heritage Action for America Committee’s Take Back America: Republican Presidential Primary Forum at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena from 4 to 6 p.m. today.

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