John C. Goodman writes:
The idea behind health stamps is straightforward. Like food, health is generally considered a necessity. So why not treat it the same way we treat food?
We don’t segregate grocery stores into those that sell to poor customers and those that do not. Grocery stores take all comers, and they charge the same price to each of them. … The [food stamp] program allows poverty and near-poverty families to have access to the full range of food products. Because they pay market prices, food stamp families are welcome customers at every grocery outlet. Although they live with more limited budgets, food stamp families are able to make tradeoffs in grocery choices—using food stamps in a way that meets their own preferences and needs. Competition for food stamp dollars forces stores to compete on price and, unlike healthcare, the prices are transparent. Every paper contains full-page ads in which price plays a dominant role.
This proposal makes certain that the poor have the wherewithal to pay for their healthcare not by forcing them to wait or take poorer quality, but with healthcare dollars. These healthcare dollars are full dollars to providers, insuring that the poor can complete for resources with all other buyers of care.