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Ben Carson wants health care talk removed from political arena

FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2017, file photo, Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designate Ben Carson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Zach Gibson, File)

LISTEN: Dr. Ben Carson, head of Housing and Urban Development.

PHOENIX — Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Tuesday that it’s time for the health care debate to be removed from the political arena for good.

“What we really need to do is take a deep breath and realize the most important thing a person has is their health and we need to take it out of the political arena and just use our heads again,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

Carson, a former neurosurgeon who now leads the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said the original purpose of health insurance — to shield people from losing everything in the event of a medical emergency — has been lost. Instead, excessive coverage demands have allowed the system to go sour.

“That’s led to a lot of opportunities for a lot of manipulation and corruption in the system,” he said. “If we take that system and we just try to put Band-Aids on it, it’s not going to work. We need to rethink this whole thing and get back to some of the basic principles of why we need health insurance in the first place.”

Carson said some steps — such as setting up medical savings accounts like the ones used in Singapore — would remove the insurance company as a middleman and instead leave things between the patient and health care provider.

“In that situation, you don’t have to play the games, like with the insurance companies where you jack up the price 10 times more than it should be because you know they’re only going to pay you 10 cents on the dollar,” he said. “All of that stuff goes away.”

Carson said flexibility could be added to the health savings accounts so that people could borrow from family members should they need to do so.

“If you were $500 short, your wife could give it to you out of hers or your cousin or your uncle – every family becomes an insurance company,” he said. “It also makes you care about Uncle Joe, who’s a chain-smoker. Everyone is going to tell him to put that cigarette down.”

Carson said the health savings accounts would likely cover more than 80 percent of all health care treatments and people could still purchase catastrophic coverage, but at a lower price.

“How often do you have a catastrophic event? Think about it,” he said. “Many people don’t have one for their entire lives, so the cost of that drops tremendously.”


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