Ben Carson on Health Care
Tea Party challenger in Republican primary
CARSON: You have to replace it with something that makes sense. I have proposed a health empowerment account system. Everybody gets a health empowerment account the day they are born; they keep it until they die. They can pass it on. We pay for it with the same dollars that we pay for traditional health care with, recognizing that we spend twice as much as many countries per capita and health care and don't have as such access. We give people the ability to shift money within their health empowerment account so that each family basically becomes its own insurance company without a middleman; that saves you an awful lot of money. And that will lower the cost of your catastrophic insurance tremendously, because the only thing coming out of that is catastrophic health care. And then in terms of taking care of the indigent, we have another whole system; go to my website bencarson.com and read about it.
CARSON: No, that's false. I have outlined using health savings accounts, which eliminate the need for people to be dependent on government programs. The plan for funding the health savings accounts is using the same dollars that we use for traditional healthcare and then the government comes in with Medicaid for the indigent.
Q: How does the health savings account work if there's no government subsidy?
CARSON: With the indigent people, $5,000 goes to each man, woman and child.˙What could you buy with that? A concierge practice generally costs $2,000-$3,000 a year and if you're a regular person you already get some health benefits. So, instead of that money going into the inefficient system that it goes in now, it gets divided into your family's health savings account over which you now have control.
Q: Doesn't that mean there's government money going into my health savings account?
CARSON: But not new government money.
A: No. The system that I would put in place would largely negate the need for Medicare or Medicaid. I'm not talking about getting rid of those programs. We'll make health savings accounts available to people from the day that they are born to the day that they die, at which time they can pass it on to their family. We pay for it with the same dollars that we pay for our health care with. We give people the ability to shift money within their HSA within their family. If you're $500 short, your wife can give it to you out of hers. It gives you flexibility without a middleman. That'll take care of the largest number of incidents. It doesn't take care of catastrophic health care. But you can buy a catastrophic health care policy. And it's going to cost you a lot less because the only thing coming out of your catastrophic insurance is real catastrophic health care.
CARSON: I've subsequently switched over to a health savings account. You know, I was trying to work within the framework of what we have. But I've concluded that what we had simply did not work. And one of the reasons it didn't work is because insurance companies made profits by denying people care. And that, of course, is a total conflict of interest. But utilizing the health savings account system that I've talked about more recently, I think,
CARSON: The annual Medicaid budget is $400 billion to $500 billion a year. We have about 80 million people participating; that's $5,000 each. Most concierge practices charge $2,000 to $3,000 a year. And then you still have thousands left over for your catastrophic insurance, which is much cheaper now since everything is coming out of your HSA. And the interesting thing is people say poor people wouldn't be able to manage a health savings account. Of course they would be able to manage it.
Q: But those health savings accounts are only $2,000 a person. That's a fraction of what the cost of an average family's health insurance.
CARSON: Well, the $2,000 figure was when I was thinking about the government funding it. But I've subsequently decided the better thing to do is to allow it to be funded through the same channels that regular health care is funded through. The money is already there, so why change that?
CARSON: The reason that I don't like the so-called Affordable Care Act is not because it doesn't work, and not because it's not affordable, but because it flies in the face of the very principles of the establishment of this country. This country was supposed to be of, for and by the people, with the government there to facilitate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. With that Act, the government comes along and says, "I don't care what you people think. This is what we're doing. We're cramming it down your throat. And if you don't like it, too bad." Well that is antithetical to the whole concept of the people being at the pinnacle and the government there to serve it. It flips that relationship and puts the government in the driver's seat. And if they can do that with the most important thing you have, your health, it's not long before they can do it with every aspect of your life.
CARSON: Numerous studies have not demonstrated any correlation between vaccinations and autism. This was something that was spread widely 15 or 20 years ago, and it has not been adequately revealed to the public what's actually going on. Vaccines are very important. Certain ones. The ones that would prevent death or crippling. There are a multitude of vaccines which probably don't fit in that category, and there should be some discretion in those cases. But, you know, a lot of this is pushed by big government.
Q: Should Trump stop saying that vaccines cause autism?
CARSON: Well, I think he's an intelligent man and will make the correct decision after getting the real facts.
TRUMP: Autism has become an epidemic. I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time.
Carson: ObamaCare fundamentally changes the relationship between the people and the government. The government is supposed to respond to the will of the people. Not dictate to the people what they are doing. And with this program, we're allowing that whole paradigm to be switched around.
Carson spent much of his 12-minute address ripping President Obama's Affordable Care Act as well as other federal entitlement programs, telling the crowd that "Obamacare is about restriction and control."
"Everything that these programs were supposed to fix has gotten worse," he said.
Carson went on to briefly touch on a series of ideas that are typically well-received among conservatives, including trimming the national debt and reducing the size of government. "One of the things that is going to destroy us as a nation is our debt," he said, as several members of the audience yelled "yes" in support. "The size of our government needs to be going down and the debt needs to be going down."
"Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them," he added.
Carson's comments came amid a contentious political debate over vaccinations, spurred by an outbreak of measles. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul both came under fire for saying it should be up to parents whether to vaccinate their children.
Carson's interactions with Mannatech date back to 2004. Mannatech was started when Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which greatly loosened restrictions on how supplement makers could market their products. In 2007, Texas charged Mannatech with an unlawful marketing scheme that exaggerated health benefits. In 2009, Texas reached an agreement: Mannatech paid $4 million in restitution to customers while admitting no wrongdoing, and was prohibited from saying that their products can cure disease. Yet Carson's interactions with the company continued for five more years.
For this reason, I and many others are not comfortable with the idea of bringing infected individuals into our midst when we can readily treat them elsewhere and happily receive them back once the infectious danger has passed. I have no desire to induce panic, but we must realize that some viruses are known to undergo mutations that make them even more virulent.
DR. BEN CARSON (ON TAPE): Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it was never about health care, it was about control.
Q: People who have health care now who didn't have it before, I suspect would disagree strongly.
CARSON: Recognize what I said, "in a way." In a way, anything is slavery that robs you of your ability to control your own life. And when you take the most important thing that you have, which is your health care, and you put that in the hands of government bureaucrats, I think you have done the wrong thing. This is not what America is about. Do I believe in health care for everybody? Absolutely. But I think there are much better ways to get there, which leave the care in the hands of patients and of doctors.
(VIDEO) BEN CARSON: I have to tell you, ObamaCare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way.(END VIDEO)
Sen. ROB PORTMAN: Well, he's a doctor who feels passionately about this issue, obviously.
The beauty of Carson's argument exceeds its simplicity, particularly as even economist Paul Krugman now concedes that something like death panels are inevitable if we stay on our current path. Taxpayers, the rich, or charities can contribute extra money to the accounts of the poor (with everyone's account seeded at birth), but at the same time, Carson says, the poor will "have some control over their own health care. And very quickly they're going to learn how to be responsible."
And also, for the people who were indigent who don't have any money we can make contributions to their HSA each month because we already have this huge pot of money. Instead of sending it to some bureaucracy, let's put it in their HSAs. Now they have some control over their own health care.
Everyone has different needs and we do not have to have a one-size-fits-all system. Because one person drives a Chevrolet and another drives a Mercedes, it doesn't automatically mean that the Chevrolet driver is deprived or needs some supplement. The fact is, he can get to the same place as a Mercedes driver with perhaps slightly less comfort. People have different medical needs and some can afford the Chevrolet plan while others can afford the Mercedes plan. We should leave it at that and not try to micromanage people's lives as long as the care is adequate
There are very few physicians who would engage in fraud, but there certainly are some. However, the solution for dealing with those few is not to create a gigantic and expensive bureaucracy, but rather to apply what I term the "Saudi Arabian solution." Why don't people steal very often in Saudi Arabia? Because the punishment is amputation of one or more fingers. I would not advocate chopping off people's limbs, but there would be some very stiff penalties for this kind of fraud, such as loss of one's medical license for life, no less than 10 years in prison, and a loss of all of one's personal possessions. Not only would this be a gigantic deterrent to fraud, but to protect themselves every physician in practice would check every single bill quite thoroughly before submitting it, which would not be that difficult to do and document.
This is an ideal place for the intervention of government regulators who, with the help of medical professionals, could establish fair and consistent remuneration. To accomplish this, essentially all of the insurance companies would have to become non-profit service organizations with standardized, regulated profit margins.
This is not the paradigm that I see for all businesses, [but] is uniquely appropriate for the health-insurance industry, which deals with people's lives and quality of existence. That may sound radical, but is it as radical as allowing a company to increase its profits by denying care to sick individuals? In the long run this would also be good for the insurance companies, who could then concentrate on providing good service, rather than focusing on undercutting their competitors and increasing their profit margin.
One solution would be to remove from the insurance companies the responsibility for catastrophic health-care coverage, making it a government responsibility [like FEMA insures against hurricanes]. Clearly, if the health-care insurance companies did not have to cover catastrophic health care, it would be relatively easy by analyzing actuarial tables to determine how much money they are likely to be liable for each year. With this information at our disposal, health insurance companies could be regulated just as utilities are regulated.
I remember a case of a prominent individual who had been in an automobile accident and was rendered a C-1 quadriplegic, which means not only was he paralyzed from the neck down, but he could not breathe without assistance. We could have made the decision to keep him alive at all costs, but through a unique system of communication that we were able to work out with him, he indicated that he wanted to die. After much debate, we yielded to his wishes and withdrew ventilator support. In the long run, I think our course of action was both compassionate and pragmatic. If we integrate compassion and logic into our decision-making processes, I am convinced that we will deal with newly emerging ethical dilemmas appropriately.
I happened to be reading "Back to Eden" about natural healing remedies and the medicinal properties of red clover tea. VX2 was a xenograph, from another species, so my own immune system would attack it, so anything that boosted my natural immune system might have been enough to do the job.
In the summer of 2002, I had my PSAs checked. I had prostate cancer; a very malignant and aggressive form. The various medical options were laid out; what caught my attention were glycol-proteins. Within a week my symptoms were completely resolved. But urologist [recommended immediate] surgery anyway, [which I did]. It turned out that the cancer was within one millimeter of metastasizing. If we had waited it would have been too late.
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