My response to the request voiced by President Obama in his State of the Union address.
Dear Mr. President,
In the State of the Union Address, referring to the health care reform proposal, you said: “But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.”
As a matter of fact, I do. It is life-cycle health risk insurance.
Prof. Ronald F. White, asked me, what exactly is “life-cycle risk insurance?”, LCHI in brief. My short answer was that it is:
1. Insurance, in its basic understanding, as a form of protection from big unexpected losses.
2. Life-cycle, as it would be a contract for lifespan of a person.
3. Common, as various LCHI programs would cover practically everyone.
4. Non-compulsory, as there would be no coercion into joining any particular LCHI plan, or not joining any at all.
Mr. President, it appears that it was your idea that the health care system reform could be accomplished only by a swift legislative action. In result, you became a hostage of the backroom Washington politics. If Washington politicians were capable to have this issue resolved, they would have it done long before you became President. Hence, the pace of the legislative process in Washington is not the pivotal issue. Having Americans involved and understanding what can and what cannot be done, is. I tried to explain this in my open letter, but judging from some of your remarks yesterday, it looks like that you still did not get it. You rightfully noticed that you did not make enough effort in explaining to Americans what you planed to do. I filled this gap by pointing out that you were promising pears on a willow tree, and by expressing my disbelief in lack of scientific methods in preparing the reform, and in debating it.
However, these are not the main reasons that the reform is facing so much opposition. In my view, shared by many Americans, your health care reform proposal had very little to do with health care itself. Your health care reform proposal appears to be an attempt of using health care crisis to change the American political system; it is not about health care at all. I am still puzzled if it was your conscious decision or it just happened this way; nevertheless, this is how I see it, and I am not alone in this perception. I expect you to address this concern heads on.
Life-cycle health insurance is a concept rooted in American political traditions of individuals’ freedoms and limited government. I worked on this concept in my spare time, without resources available to the Federal Government. Hence, my proposal may need some work before it could become a valid alternative to your proposal. However, it provides a concept proving that our health care issues could be addressed in the different way than politicians in Washington conceptualized it.
I am using terms as “politicians in Washington” with the purpose to underline that for someone far away from Washington, differences between Democrats and Republicans are hardly noticeable. I strongly believe that your health care reform proposal did not fail miserably at the very beginning, as it should, only because Republicans did not have any better ideas ; for the same reasons as Democrats prepared a lame proposal.
Mr. President, it is very important issue. Let us not waste a minute, and start from scratch. Let us ask ourselves what the ideal health care system should be. Let us debate what we can afford. Let us have more than one complex proposal on the table. Let us talk frankly about political concepts behind various proposals. Let Americans decide what they want, and tell it to politicians in Washington.
Six months after you presented your proposal, we have nation more divided than ever on this issue. How much further do you want to go on this path?
Henryk A. Kowalczyk
A version of this text was published by Huffington Post