Improving health care in Hawaii

With the Prepaid Health Care Act of 1974, Hawaii was the first state requiring employers to offer health insurance to non-seasonal employees who work at least 20 hours a week. According to Health Trends in Hawaii, 90% of Hawaii residents were covered by private or public health insurance in 2007.

No matter what happens in Congress, Hawaii is in the unique position to lead health care reform.

How can Hawaii improve health care for residents?

Individual health care plans. Make it easier and more affordable for individuals to purchase their own health insurance, similar to individual retirement accounts (IRAs).  It would allow you (not your employer) to choose your health plan. It would ensure that you are covered when you are between jobs. We could even reduce or eliminate COBRA, because it would be unnecessary.

Health savings accounts. Tax-free savings accounts for medical expenses would empower individuals to take charge of their health and encourage fiscal responsibility.

Guarantee coverage renewal. Require that insurance companies continue coverage for as long as you pay the insurance premium, except when there is intentional fraud or abuse.

Publish health care rates. Require that doctors, hospitals, and health care providers publish rates for services and procedures, or give patients a written estimate of costs. This would keep rates competitive, give us more control over our expenses, and decrease health insurance fraud.

Limit lawsuits and “damages.” Doctors are human. Unless there is gross negligence, we need to acknowledge that doctors are not all-knowing and can’t predict the future. By reducing lawsuits, limiting awards, and penalizing frivolous lawsuits, we could encourage more people to become doctors.

Allow health insurance companies to offer sell policies in all states. This is something we need to do at the federal level. But we should show our support for increased healthcare options. Of course, more choice is often more confusing as well, so we would also need strict state regulations to ensure we are protected.

We don’t need a government-run health care system. We need more control over our health care, instead of letting the government, employers, and health care organizations make decisions for us.

I think the health care system we have works for the most part, but we make it better. What do you think?

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One Comment on “Improving health care in Hawaii”

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