Jesse Ramos: Unpacking health care so it is more affordable for all Montanans | Columnists

Jesse Ramos: Unpacking health care so it is more affordable for all Montanans |  Columnists
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Health care is top of mind for many Montanans, especially during pandemics, inflation, and chaotic foreign events. Montanans need affordable, customizable health care plans that fit their needs and those of their families. For too long, state, and federal governments have force-fed the American people top-down, one-size fits all approaches to healthcare. Even worse, the government has participated in massive corporate welfare subsidies to some of the largest companies in the United States. The results speak for themselves.

America has some of the best hospitals, doctors, and technology in the world. With all of that going for us, nearly 70% of all Americans think our health care system needs to change. For too long the system has been burdened with red tape, hidden price subsidies, and instability that drive up the cost and lower the quality of care.

For decades, Americans used to be able to visit their community doctor for an affordable, out-of-pocket annual checkup. They had a great relationship with the individual doctor, and the doctor provided services to the patient and their family at an affordable cost.

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Back then, it was rare for facilities to charge your insurers for yearly check-ups, wellness exams, or even X-rays because it was much more affordable to the average American. People still had health insurance, but this was mainly to cover unlikely, unexpected, and expensive illnesses.

When you purchase a vehicle and car insurance, do you change your insurance for the oil change, tire rotation, or even to fill up your tank? Of course, you don’t because that is not what insurance is for. Folks typically only purchase insurance for cases of extreme catastrophic circumstances. Can you imagine how expensive your auto insurance would be if the government mandated that it cover all those different routine expenses? It, too, would be unaffordable.

The fact of the matter is that many Americans don’t need to be paying a monthly premium to cover all the bells and whistles of health insurance when, at the end of the day, they can address their basic needs out of personal savings and perhaps with a basic insurance policy as a backup.

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Doctors in our country are so burdened by top-down mandates, paperwork, and regulations that they can no longer form a meaningful, impactful relationship with their patients. Too often, hospitals, clinics, and doctors are left negotiating with several intermediaries that come between them and the people they went to school to help: their patients.

These middlemen are the governments and insurance companies who, in many cases, are mandated to cover every medical scenario. The middlemen need to get their cut, which drives up costs and insulates medical providers from their customers. Because patients do not have a broad choice in their coverage and, in many cases, can’t even fully see what they are being charged, they don’t have the option to go somewhere that offers them better prices.

Americans want to get back to the health insurance costs that their parents and grandparents enjoyed before top-down mandates broke our system. Instead of more government rules and red tape, they want a Personal Option and sensible reforms that fix what’s broken in our health care system while preserving what works. They want a system that is customized to fit their individual needs.

When you enter a restaurant, you can look at the menu, see what is available, decide what you need, and know what it costs. Why can’t health care be the same way? Fortunately for us, our state Legislature and governor took significant strides last session in making health care more affordable, customizable, and better for all Montanans. I’ll describe those good reforms in my next column.

Jesse Ramos writes from a liberty-conservative point of view and is the community engagement director at Americans for Prosperity-Montana and a former Missoula City Council member representing Ward 4 from 2018 to 2022.

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