Health care reform is once again top of mind in Congress, and rightfully so. We can all agree that the steady rise of health care costs places a considerable risk on the backs of all citizens and our economy at large.

We need reform that addresses affordability and accessibility, but our leaders in Washington must also recognize the consequences of any sweeping, one-size-fits-all approaches. Single-payer health care may seem appealing on the surface, but there is a hard truth to completely transforming one-sixth of our economy to the government.

The reality of single-payer means that the public, including those of us in the tri-state area, will have fewer choices for their care, more uncertainty, and above all, higher costs.

There is a way forward on health care reform. The health care future everyone deserves is a system that lowers costs, offers more patient choice and maintains the highest quality care available. A transformation into a government-run system would put all of these priorities at risk.

Our current health care system is not perfect and we should

never accept the status quo. Among the many challenges we face, it’s easy to forget that our health care system provides more personal choice than any other system in the world. When we combine choice and competition with the right policies, costs will go down and the quality health care that we expect will be ensured.

In a single-payer system, patient choice and free-market competition are removed to make way for higher costs and reductions in the standards of our care.

Despite major changes in health care over the last decade, more people now than ever are on a plan with their employer. Eliminating private insurance altogether — a key point of single-payer

proposals — is not a clean swap. It’s a major disruption where health insurance providers, doctors, local hospitals and the

treatments they provide are all subject to negative consequences.

Every discussion on health care needs to address rising costs and ways we can improve the quality of care. But single-payer won’t be up to that task. Instead, it would lead us in the opposite direction alongside a $3 trillion-a-year pricetag. This will inevitably create higher taxes on the backs of citizens.

In Iowa’s 1st District, U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer has made it clear that health care costs are a priority of hers, and rightfully so. Reducing costs should be a top priority, but we can’t afford to rip the rug out from tri-staters’ own health care plans and leave everything in the hands of the government. Under this takeover, there is no scenario where people will be able to keep their own coverage; the only guarantee is that lower costs are not a part of the equation.

This is the reality of the single-payer system that needs to be acknowledged in the health care debate. Instead, I hope that Congresswoman Finkenauer works alongside her colleagues to find solutions that respect the individual choices that make the difference in our health.

When the free market and public programs work together to bring down the cost of care, all citizens stand to benefit.

Rang is vice president, shareholder and board member of Dubuque-based Friedman Group, Inc., a subsidiary of LMC Insurance Risk and Management, headquartered in West Des Moines. His email address is RangJ@Friedman-Group.com.

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