(The following editorial was written by Bruce Burke and published in the Centre Daily Times on February 5, 2010)

“Take a Common-Sense Approach to Health Care”

Our health care system is clearly broken.

Being in the fitness business, my family and our employees stay pretty healthy. As a result, for the six years that we have had a high-deductible health insurance plan, we have never actually met our deductible or used any of the insurance. To me, it seems that a group like ours would be an insurance company’s dream.
Apparently, I am wrong. Our renewal premium just went up 25 percent for 2010.

I guess I should feel lucky. We got proposals from seven different companies, and the average increase was 83 percent, with High-mark Blue Cross topping the list with a 215 percent increase. How can this be?

Obviously, we need health care reform. The question is how best to do it. I strongly believe that, initially, we should be singularly focused on what can be done to reduce the cost of health care. This might sound obvious, but I fail to see this focus in our current health care reform proposals.
To reduce these costs, we simply need to use common sense and let free-market forces begin to correct the problem.

Can anyone explain why insurance companies aren’t allowed to do business in all states? What could the downside possibly be to having the best companies compete for our business? Isn’t that what our country and system are supposed to be all about?
How about tort reform? Is that really such a radical idea? Why can’t we create a special medical liability court that has the power to weed out frivolous lawsuits? How about simply having the plaintiff pay for the defendant’s legal fees if they lose?

As I have shared before, I strongly believe that consumers must be responsible for more of the cost of their health care if prices are to come down. Imagine what would happen to the cost of drugs and services if all of us shopped for the best deals? If you could go to one provider and get your testing done for 50 percent less than if you went to another, you probably would go to the less expensive option. In that scenario, the more expensive provider would need to lower its charges or go out of business. That is how the free market is supposed to work. The problem now is that everyone has an insurance-will-pay-for- it mentality. As a result, they go wherever is convenient with no regard for the costs and not fully grasping that it is they who are paying for the high insurance costs, either directly or indirectly.

A positive consequence of having to pay for more of our health care costs directly would be that we would be healthier. For many of us, staying fit has its own rewards. For others, the realization that money could be saved by living a healthier lifestyle might be all the motivation that is needed.
With a cost to taxpayers of practically nothing, doesn’t this seem like a reasonable place to start?

Bruce Burke is President and Founder of One on One, specializing in personal fitness training in State College, Pa. He can be reached at bruce@oneononefit.com.