S.A.F.E. -- Savings Accounts For Everything (#1)
Continuing on the health-care theme I had a while back, I came up with S.A.F.E. (Savings Accounts For Everything). I would cover Health, Education, Welfare (good ol' HEW), Retirement, and Legal expenses. First, Health:
1. Figure out the amount of money a person is likely to require for healthcare throughout his life, including pre-existing conditions and genetic predispositions. Adjust this amount to reward good healthcare decisions (generic drugs, regular checkups) and punish bad ones (overweight, smoker, etc).
2. Figure out how much money a person can afford to set aside for healthcare.
3. Mandate contributions by law. If #2>#1, then the person should save as much money as necessary, either by payroll deductions or regular payment. If #1>#2, the person should set aside as much as he or she can afford.
4. Reimburse health care providers a set amount based on the drug, procedure, or treatment. A person could opt for a more expensive option, but they would have to pay the difference out of their own pocket.
5. The state should cover any shortfall in the account, but treat it as a loan with interest. If the person's financial situtation improves, they start paying off the debt.
6. If there is a surplus in the account, the state should pay a reasonable rate of interest into the account.
7. In addition to rewarding people for good healthcare decisions, people who do things like donate blood, sign themselves up as anatomical donors, or other activities that (potentially) improve the health of others should get a break on their withholdings.
8. If a person has saved an amount sufficient to cover healthcare costs and taxes (#11, below) for the rest of his life, he is no longer subject to automatic withholding unless the account has a future shortfall.
9. Parents are responsible for all healthcare costs for their children until they reach adulthood.
10. If a person dies with an account shortfall, the money to retire the debt will come out of the estate if possible. If there is a surplus, a portion (all?) of that surplus will go to one's heirs.
11. Since there will probably still be a shortfall over the entire system, a (possibly graduated) rate of taxation will also be imposed to cover it.
There are probably a few flaws in it, but it's fairer than most of the suggestions I see, and far less subject to abuse than the current system, both in the U.S. and in foreign countries.
I'll concentrate on the "For Everything" part of the proposal (education, welfare, retirement, and legal expenses) at a later date.