Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part series that began with “Ben Carson uncorks on what’s wrong with America.”
Dr. Ben Carson may be retired from the operating room in which he spent so many hours as a brain surgeon, but he’s putting in lots of overtime on fixing America’s broken health-care system.
In a recent interview with WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah, in which he also warned of America’s growing debt problem, Carson said he didn’t think Obamacare would be repealed anytime soon, no matter how unpopular it proves to be.
“It will not likely be repealed until we have a clear-thinking president, so you’re probably looking at 2017,” he said.
But Carson, who has not ruled out a run for the presidency himself, said he has been working on a substitute for the Affordable Care Act.
“The thing I’m working on right now with a number of groups, including members of Congress, is a very excellent alternative, and we’ve been rolling it out bit by bit,” he said.
Carson has started a website, SaveOurHealthcare.org, to promote his alternative, which includes the expansion of health savings accounts.
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, chairman of the Congressional Health Caucus, has introduced legislation that would expand the use of HSAs and has said Carson’s focus on the issue served as his inspiration.
The main problem Carson sees with the Affordable Care Act, besides the loss of control by doctors and patients, is that it’s not affordable for many Americans.
Carson said HSAs put people in charge of their own health instead of government bureaucrats and insurance companies.
“There are a variety of mechanisms for funding it, but basically, with every American having a health savings account, they begin to take part in the financial responsibility for their health,” Carson said. “So you sprain your ankle? You, along with your health-care provider decide, do I want to get an X-ray? It’s coming out of your HSA. You need a physical exam for a new job? That’s coming out of your HSA. Birth-control pills? Your HSA. No Hobby Lobby situation. There are very few things that are coming out of your major medical or your catastrophic health insurance, so what happens? It drops the price tremendously. And, of course, we make it possible to get your catastrophic health care anywhere in the U.S.”
Carson explained how the HSAs can be structured for maximum flexibility.
“You also allow flexibility by allowing family members to shift money within their HSAs, so if you fall $500 short, your wife can give it to you out of hers, or your daughter or your grandfather, anybody within the family, which provides enormous flexibility to cover almost any situation that’s going to come up,” he said. “And then if you have a major thing, that comes out of your major medical, which is easily affordable, through your HSA. This makes so much sense, and there are a number of places in the country where large groups of people use HSAs. They are very, very happy with them.”
Carson said there are even examples of countries that have successfully adopted HSAs, such as Singapore.
“They call them medical savings accounts; they’re all mandatory,” he said. “I wouldn’t necessarily make it mandatory, because this is America. People get to do what they want. But I think when you make such a compelling argument on something that works so well, you won’t have to force people into it. They will flock to it.”
Under Obamacare, HSAs are restricted. They can only be purchased under certain insurance plans, and contributions are limited to levels that are often substantially lower than deductibles.
Burgess’ Health Savings Act of 2014 attempts to level the playing field and allow HSAs to be used more broadly.
“In fact, the so-called Affordable Care Act limits HSAs because, I think, deep in their hearts, they know this is the antidote for the silliness that they’re proposing,” Carson said. “So, let’s suppress it. Let’s put it back in the box.”
Instead, the government should recognize that when people are responsible for their own health care, “they are looking for good use of their money,” he continued. “It brings the whole health-care system back into the free-market realm. That’s what controls quality. That’s what controls pricing.”
America could become ‘Greece overnight’
Obamacare is just one new mandate adding to the debt that is strangling the United States economy, he said.
The only reason the U.S. is able to continue its out-of-control deficit spending is because the dollar is the world’s reserve currency, and the Fed is able to monetize that debt by printing money.
“We have to explain to people what this debt means. Seventeen-and-a-half trillion dollars, nobody can understand that,” Carson said. “At $10 million a day, you’re talking almost 5,000 years (to repay the debt). That’s ridiculous.
“And the only reason we can sustain that level of debt is because we can print money; and the only reason we can print money is because we are the world’s reserve currency, a status that generally accompanies the world’s No. 1 economy, which we have been since the 1870s, a designation we are likely to lose in the relatively near future to China.”
The Obama administration likes to talk about the unemployment rate. But, like a doctor reading a thermometer, Carson looks at another statistic that he considers much more reflective of the nation’s economic health.
“It’s the labor force participation rate. We should have charts we can show the people. It’s been going down steadily, and it’s at its lowest point in 40 years,” he said. “We have to educate people about what that means.”
At the same time, a number of countries, including Russia and China, have been pushing for the U.S. dollar to lose its vaunted status as the world’s reserve currency.
The idea is to develop a “basket currency,” he noted, in which a number of different currencies would form the basis.
With the level of debt and unfunded mandates facing the U.S., continuing to print money is a prescription for disaster.
“We’ll be looking at Greece overnight,” he said.
“There will be chaos in the streets. Occupy Wall Street will be a walk in the park compared to what will be going on as people begin to panic and recognize that they’ve lost everything they’ve ever worked for,” Carson said.
“Of course, they don’t talk about it. I’ll tell you who does talk about it: Vladimir Lenin. One of the ways to destroy the United States (according to Lenin)? Unsustainable debt. I just say, people, you’ve got to wake up. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but whether it’s intentional or not doesn’t matter; we’ll still be destroyed.”
Farah pointed out that, on this particular issue, both parties share the blame.
“There’s been no responsibility exercised on the Republicans’ part,” Farah said.
“I agree. I’ve been talking to a number of them,” Carson responded. “I think they’re starting to get it. I’m encouraged. I think you’ll start to see some things over the next several months that will begin to pleasantly surprise you. I think they’re actually starting to understand the gravity of the situation. We can’t be playing around anymore. It can’t be business as usual.”