Oregon School Districts can provide teachers with a better benefits package, protect the patient-physician relationship and reduce education expenditures. How? Follow the footsteps of successful organizations like Whole Foods Markets, whose health costs rose by about 3% in the year after adoption of the ideas outlined below. The following healthcare solution should be implemented before money is wasted on yet another PR push for more education funding — read: higher taxes.First, teachers should be provided low-cost, high deductible health insurance policies. Simultaneously, IRA-like Health Savings Arrangements (HSAs) are to be set up. This burgeoning two-prong solution offers several personal benefits: It returns health care decisions to individuals and physicians, where such decisions belong.
HSA monies not spent by the teachers and their families roll over and grow from year-to-year, similar to Individual Retirement Accounts. HSA monies are portable: When the teacher changes schools or occupations, that money belongs to the individual and goes with her.
This solution helps hold costs down: When individuals pay for routine, predictable health care expenses, they become smarter consumers and shop — and physicians respond by setting prices (not insurance companies). More and more frequently, care providers are lowering prices for those who pay on the spot, sometimes 20 to 50 percent lower. This downward pressure helps all patients, including people without insurance.
This solution provides coverage: When unforeseen, catastrophic events hit, insurance kicks in. With this general prescription, Logan Aluminum in Kentucky, with 1,000 employees, reduced its health costs by 19% in one year, saving it $925,000.
There is enough money for education. The trick is for those at the helm to become better stewards of what they have. They can be better stewards of the public purse by adopting this more-popular-by-the-day idea: Low-cost catastrophic health insurance, coupled with portable, accruing Health Savings Arrangements. This combination offers a win-win-win solution for teachers, taxpayers and patients.
Kurt T. Weber
Multnomah County Libertarian Party