NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA — Amid rising medical costs, changing health care benefits and renewed claims that the number of so-called uninsured Americans is increasing, Americans would be much better off if they were left alone to cover their own health care. That’s what Richard Ralston, executive director of a California-based organization recently wrote in an op-ed. Though it’s hardly a typical argument — most health care policy analysts widely accept the notion of government intervention in medicine — Ralston’s viewpoint is rooted in the facts and the law.

“The wealthiest government employees or corporate executives who receive health care insurance as a part of their compensation package receive this benefit on a tax-free basis,” Ralston, who runs Americans for Free Choice in Medicine (AFCM), explained in a recent op-ed. “Anyone who pays their own health insurance premiums or medical bills must struggle to wring these payments from income that is fully taxed. This practice is unfair and it inflates the cost of health care for everyone,” Ralston wrote. His op-eds have been published in the Orange County (Calif.) Register and the Washington Times.

The proper solution, he argued, is an idea whose time has come — and is unfortunately, set to expire: expand unrestricted tax-free medical savings accounts (MSAs). “MSAs cover most routine medical expenses and make health care affordable. Were MSAs made available to every American, the tax burden of supporting huge government health care expenditures would be alleviated,” Ralston concluded. He noted: “Very restricted MSA’s exist today, but the legislation creating them will expire at the end of 2003.”

Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, (AFCM), founded in 1993, publishes a consumer’s guide and tutorial to MSAs on its Web site and it is the nation’s only educational organization based on individual rights, personal responsibility and free market ideas in medicine.

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