Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Dr. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, has a prescription to help Americans be healthier, end the anxiety of living without health insurance coverage and provide savings for future medical needs.

Coburn and others recently introduced the Universal Health Care Choice and Access Act (S. 1019). It’s an idea worth looking at.

Coburn’s remedy is individual/family control and government tax rebates to increase the pool of insurance buyers, which he says will boost competition and lower rates. It also features a health savings account plan for health care: Funds not spent at the end of a year will accumulate for later health care needs.

Coburn believes that if one is smart enough to purchase and have control over his or her car, life, property and casualty, or renter’s insurance, then he or she can also be educated and become smart enough to make choices when buying health insurance.

Prevention of disease can save trillions of dollars, he says. Over the last century, he adds, the average lifespan has increased more than 30 years, with 25 years attributed to prevention; five preventable chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes) cause two-thirds of American deaths, while 75 percent of the total health expenditures are spent to treat chronic diseases that are largely preventable.

The bill would coordinate prevention initiatives in cost-effective and measurable ways and establish a national strategic prevention plan. It would set national priorities with measurable goals and empower individuals to make healthy decisions.

A key element of the plan, Coburn says, is tax rebates to ensure everyone can afford health coverage. “The existing tax code discriminates against individuals who do not receive health insurance from their employer, and that has contributed to 46.6 million Americans who have no health insurance,” he says. “Subsidizing health insurance instead of health care has resulted in a third-party payer system that compromised patients control over their own health care decision.”

The bill’s Medi-Choice rebate — $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for families — would be made directly to the buyer’s health insurer. The average premium in Oklahoma, he adds, is $1,586, so $414 could be deposited in the health savings account for future health care needs.

Coburn’s plan changes, in a positive the way, how individuals look at health care. Individuals make choices just as they do for other insurance products, so why not health insurance, too? It’s time for this nation to have a debate about this issue. Click here to learn more.