Quality health care is an essential human need. It is something that every human being has a right to. Lowering health care costs by expanding affordable health care to every resident and reducing the cost of prescription medication should be a priority of any state legislator.
Access to health care is more than a matter of convenience or buying a luxury item, it is an essential human need. Health insurance premiums have risen by 30 percent in the past decade according the Utah Foundation (Rising premium costs getting 'really scary' for Utah small business," Deseret News, April 29, 2018) often with high deductibles easily adding more than $3,000 to a family’s medical expenses per year. “Administrative expenses…account for 20 percent to 25 percent of U.S. health care expenditures” twice that of Canada according to "Sick of Confusing Medical Bills," Consumer Reports (September 2018). Many of these costs are passed onto us by health providers and insurance companies. Our health care system is broken.
Lower health care costs by expanding affordable health care insurance. Our State needs to expand “affordable” health care insurance for everyone, including the middle- and upper middle-class residents. When a middle-class business woman with a family of five who lives in our Utah House District has to pay more in monthly health insurance premiums than her monthly house payment, something is terribly wrong with our health care system. We can reduce health care costs and insurance premiums for everyone through preventive medical care and earlier medical treatment. Too many families without insurance cannot pay for routine dental and medical checkups, routine diabetic and cancer screenings. The cost of denying basic health care results in residents in our community forced to go to emergency rooms repeatedly to deal with serious or life-threatening illnesses (that never actually get managed) amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in specialized medical treatment that we all end up paying for.
When we allow our neighbors to get sick without access to affordable health care what happens?
Children go to school sick making other students sick or they stay home longer and fall further and further behind in school;
Parents get sick and can't take care of their children;
Businesses suffer as more and more of their employees get sick and don't get to work, decreasing business productivity and profits, increasing the cost for goods and services for the rest of us;
Employees become susceptible to being fired or laid off because they can't get well or have to take more time off work;
Families get more stressed as tempers flare as people begin to feel just plain lousy and marriages become threatened with disorder and dissolution.
We can no longer afford people waiting until they are almost dead instead of receiving earlier medical care at a far less cost.
Reduce the amount of wasteful bureaucratic paperwork. Utah health care needs a more manageable payer system that could save tens of millions of dollars in administrative costs for taxpayers (“Hidden From View: The Astonishingly High Costs of U.S. Health Care,” The New York Times, July 10, 2018). I will call for a health care summit of consumers, providers and government officials to simplify and consolidate the mountains of complicated insurance forms and paperwork.
Promote comprehensive in-home patient services. I will work to re-direct state funds to community organizations that partner with other agencies to provide in-home health care and social services. By working with the whole family in the home using a team of volunteers, registered nurses, physical therapists, and social workers, our tax dollars can go further and reduce overhead costs. By helping care-givers with relief, our tax dollars can help our neighbors take care of their aging parents or sick-ones longer and better without higher public expenses.
Lower the high cost of prescriptions. Provide informative brochures informing customers of their right to ask pharmacists about alternative “lower-cost” medications without insurance. One study reported that out of 9.5 million claims submitted that in 23% of the cases that people could have saved money if they had not used their insurance but just paid cash or used a credit card for their prescription ("Senate panel to consider ban on prescription drug 'gag clauses,' The Hill, May 23, 2018). But the pharmacy industry lobbied and had Congress pass into law a Gag Order to help keep their profits. Utah needs to work collaboratively with other states and our major health care providers to directly negotiate with drug companies cutting out the exorbitant cost of intermediary powerbrokers to reduce the excessive cost of prescription drugs. Utah needs to offer more options to residents to obtain cheaper medically safe drugs even if from out of the United States. We will no longer be held hostage to the bloated health care system.