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Health Care

It is obvious that our health care system is broken. We are the richest country in the world, and we devote a bigger share of our wealth to health care than any other country in the world. We ought to have an unparalleled health care system. Instead, we have 40 million uninsured and more families joining their ranks every day as more small businesses become unable to keep up with skyrocketing insurance costs.

Part of the problem is that past Congresses have taken care of themselves before taking care of the country. This is wrong. I had the opportunity to get the Congressional health insurance, but I turned it down. I don’t think it’s fair to insulate myself from the nightmares that many Americans are facing. Instead, my husband and I will keep struggling with the private insurance policies we’ve had for years. Believe me, it’s a nightmare.

Since we have individual insurance plans, I don’t need statistics to tell me how difficult it is to afford health insurance. The typical household in Kansas’ Second District made $41,061 in 2005. The average premium for health insurance for a family of four was $10,660 that year. Health insurance is becoming simply unaffordable for the typical American family.

Expensive health insurance is largely a result from inefficiencies in the health care system. I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over twenty years, so I’m only too familiar with these inefficiencies. For example, the pharmaceutical industry spends as much money on advertising and promotion as they do on research and development. Health insurance companies make money by burying doctors in paperwork until they give up trying to collect. All of the medical professionals I talk to have ideas about waste they’ve seen first hand. If we can cut this waste, we can save billions and billions of dollars!

I also believe that we should discuss every option to improve the availability of health insurance. There are roles for businesses, government and families to play:

  • Businesses: Our system is based on employer-provided health insurance because companies can deduct the costs from their taxes. Still, because of their size, many small businesses are faced with sky-high rates. There have been several proposals to allow small businesses to band together to get better rates. This needs to be done now.

  • Government: Government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP have been great successes at covering vulnerable populations. We need to keep them strong for future generations.

  • Families: I support allowing families to deduct health insurance premiums from their taxes, just like companies do. I also support creating accounts where families can save tax free for medical expenses.