There is no such thing as a free lunch.

John Stossel

One of the best journalists around today is John Stossel. When I was a kid, my mom would come home from work late on Friday nights, and I used to stay up and watch 20/20 at 10 pm. At that time, Stossel was a consumer reporter/investigative journalist on the show and I used to enjoy watching his segments. He had a witty style and a dry sense of humor, and he just seemed to make a lot of practical sense, even though at that time I probably wasn’t paying attention to much other than sports and school. Now, Stossel co-hosts 20/20 with Elizabeth Vargas and also writes a column for

He is also the author of the book Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity, which debunks the conventional wisdom regarding a wide range of topics including the health effects of chocolate, the price of gasoline, the safety of public schools, world overpopulaton, landfill space, etc. Stossel’s work generally supports a libertarian philosophy and a belief in free markets and small government, which is probably why he made so much sense to me when I was growing up!

December 10, 2008   6 Comments

Saving Health Care

From “Sick in America” with 20/20’s John Stossel.

Needless to say I am dead against Universal Health Care, and prefer something even more free-market than what we have today. The biggest problem with our health care system today is cost – how do we fix that? About a year ago, my employer introduced what is called a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA). At first I thought it was highly annoying – I had to open a new account, save receipts, pay bills, pay attention to costs, etc. I used to have what I thought was a much simpler Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan. I didn’t have the freedom to go to any doctor – it had to be a doctor in “the network”, and I couldn’t go to a specialist without first being routed through my Primary Care Physician (PCP). What were the actual cost of my doctor visits? I had no idea. But it was simple. I would just pay the $25 co-pay and maybe get some confusing paperwork in the mail with a heading “This Is Not a Bill”, which meant it would go straight to the trash and out of my mind.

The fact that people don’t know how much medical procedures cost is a main reason why costs have been rapidly increasing. Doctors with patients who have full coverage plans have the incentive to charge patients whatever the system will allow. Insurance companies have the incentive to deny coverage for certain procedures to keep costs down. Highly educated doctors are reduced to low-level employees whose actions are effectively regulated by large corporations. With my new HDHP and my HSA I actually have to pay attention to what things cost, and I have the freedom to shop around. My company contributes to the HSA and I can put tax deductible money in there as well. I can use it to pay for doctor visits, contact lenses, medication, the dentist, and many more things. I have the incentive to look for the best possible treatment at the lowest possible cost, and websites are springing up to provide people with this information. And if something really bad happens, I am covered for anything that costs more than my deductible (about $2000). Yeah I have to keep track of a few more things, but I now feel that I am in control and I have more choices. This is how the system should work, and this is how our country can save health care.

November 29, 2008   4 Comments