Dr. Ben Carson’s Alternative to Obamacare Suffers From Status Quoitis


It was my mother who introduced me to Dr. Ben Carson's personal life story. Because of her, I read his autobiography, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. And several years later I watched some of the made for TV movie based on the book (I lack the patience to watch an entire movie). The book is the tale of how he overcame poverty and anger and became a renowned pediatric neurosurgeon.

Before his retirement as a physician I would hear his name or see him on the news as one of the doctors performing groundbreaking surgery to save someone's life. And I would think to myself, oh that's the guy who... I have to admit I was proud of him and his accomplishments. So I was eager to read his alternative plan to Obamacare.

Where to begin?
  • First, the name of the project is Save Our Healthcare
  • Second, it is a “partnership” between Newt Gingrich’s American Legacy Political Action Committee (PAC) and Dr. Carson, who serves as the project’s Chairman
  • Third, there are five parts to Dr. Carson’s health care reform project
Dr. Carson’s Five Health Care Reforms

Dr. Carson outlines his health care reform proposal in a
five-part video series on the Save Our Healthcare website. Here is a summary of his reforms:

Part 1 – Creation of personal, tax-free health savings accounts (HSAs) established at birth. Account funding can come from you, the accountholder; a family member, employer, charity, and even Medicaid

Part 2 – Passage of Tort Reform legislation to help control high medical malpractice premiums. Dr. Carson cites the state of Texas’s restrictive tort reform law passed in 2003 as a model for national tort reform. The law severely limits the amount of damages victims can collect

Part 3 – Creation of specific health plans for high-risk individuals (with preexisting conditions). Specific plans for high-risk individuals funded by federal and state government and individuals

Part 4 – Promote the use of technology and encourage innovation to improve health outcomes. Universal use of personal electronic medical records with tight privacy controls to reduce unnecessary testing and treatment. Reform or disband government agencies that delay getting innovation to the market

Part 5 – Give states more control over Medicaid program budgets, specifically…

Dr. Carson’s health care reforms place a lot of faith in doctors and the free market. He seems to suggest that all the pre-Obamacare status quo needs is a little tweaking to become a highly efficient system. Free doctors up from paying “too much” for their mistakes. Free industry up to create innovative technology and increase the price of care. How these initiatives increase access to health insurance and health care are unclear. How they will help control growing health care costs is also a mystery.

Dr. Carson claims his goal is to give individuals more control over their health, but he wants to do this by empowering doctors, medical device makers, pharmaceutical companies and states. Yet he says nothing of requiring these entities to pass on their savings from tort reform or less government regulation to patients. And don’t these groups already have all the power? And aren’t the prices they charge the reason Americans file for more medical bankruptcies than any other kind of bankruptcy?

We can forgive Dr. Carson for creating
his alternative to Obamacare. It is definitely a physician’s (retired physician in his case) point of view. And he does make a point worth exploring about lumping high-risk individuals with pre-existing conditions in with everyone else. Individuals not receiving subsidies from Obamacare or an employer are forced to take on these increased costs.
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