Ok, I don't like the title either. It implies that healthcare needs to be "saved" as if the government can do it. I don't believe that the government is capable of saving anything except for the jobs of government employees. Perhaps a better word would have been "fix". Regardless, here is something I have thought up. Please comment with your thoughts.
1.) Everyone in this country is required to have a certain level of health insurance (i.e. insurance with emergency care with a deductible of no less than $5,000 or something like that). I don't want government mandates either and I don't like that... but if the fact is that the uninsured are costing everyone else a ton of money by getting free care at the hospital which translates into higher costs for you and me, then this would end up saving everyone money and would keep the government from taking control of healthcare. This should be a "soft" requirement of some kind based on #3 below. I don't think the government should be jailing people for not having insurance, just telling them they are out of luck if they go to the hospital without insurance and without any way of paying for care.
2.) To make sure this is affordable for everyone, every person gets a tax break (a "refund" if you will) in the amount that they pay in health insurance each year. In other words, if you would be paying the government $20,000 in taxes this year and your health insurance cost you $5,000, your tax burden would be lowered to $15,000. This should also be applied to HSA's. If you have a $5,000 deductible plan and you put $5,000 into your HSA this year, that's an extra $5,000 that you don't have to pay to the government that year. This would encourage more people to get high decuctible plans with an HSA and would save a lot of money in healthcare costs because when people are paying out of their own bank account (even an HSA) they actually ask about the cost and necessity of care before undergoing any tests or treatment. They're less likely to get an MRI just because they felt a twinge in their back even though there is no radiculopathy or anything that actually merits an MRI. When your insurance is picking up the tab you tend to not care about costs or necessity as much so the doctor/hospital can (and often do) order tests that aren't necessary. This would really save a lot of money in healthcare costs. It doesn't take a genius to figure out which is the better option and I think the overwhelming majority of Americans would agree.
3.) Absolutely, under no circumstance, is a person without health insurance and without the money to pay for the services to be treated for free. If you decide not to get insurance and you don't have the cash to pay for care, you're out of luck. If you're too poor to pay for any health insurance whatsoever, we already have a program in place for you. It's called medicaid. Sure it isn't as good as what the CEO at a fortune 500 company gets, but you can't afford that insurance. I shouldn't have to pay a boatload of extra taxes just because there are fewer doctors accepting Medicaid than there are that accept Blue Cross and you're upset that I'm not paying for you to go to whatever doctor you want. You're getting free insurance. Be thankful that the rest of us are picking up the tab for your welfare insurance and stop bitching about it.
I believe this plan would save a lot of money in healthcare costs and would keep the government from having control over healthcare decisions. The counter-argument as I see it would be that people would be deducting so much money from what they are paying to the government right now because of the extra tax breaks that the government would either have to cut spending or raise taxes (and we all know which option they would choose). However, whether we're talking about paying money to the government and having them pay the doctors or doing it this way where the money never makes it to the government and we pay the doctors, it seems to me the only difference would be in who has the control. In this model, the citizen has the control whereas in the socialized medicine model, the government has control.
One of my biggest fears about the healthcare debate going on in this country is that while the majority of Americans don't favor socialized medicine, they do seem to think that the healthcare system needs to be reformed. Unfortunately I am not seeing any plan whatsoever by the republicans to help the situation other than to fight the democrats' plan. While it is important to fight their terrible ideas to save us from the horrors of socialized medicine, I believe we as republicans need to have a counter offer to the American people on how we would fix the problem of runaway healthcare costs. Your thoughts are appreciated as always.