“How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.” – Ronald Reagan.

If people were machines, Communism would be the answer. Given the goal of producing the best and most equitable society for a like-minded people, what algorithm wouldn’t suggest people jointly owning everything and working together for the common good? Except that people aren’t like-minded. Mostly, they aren’t even similarly-minded on the issue of what is the one true and common good. The Communist then has to decide that issue and force everyone else to the same conclusion, which is why every attempt at Communism in history has devolved into a dictatorship and mass murder.

Obamacare failed for the same reason. (Yes, gratefully, it is fair to begin talking about it in the past tense.) Like Communism, the premise was noble in spirit: health insurance for everyone and everyone to contribute according to their ability to pay. Then came the kickbacks to get politicians to sign on and the exemptions for special interests. Once passage was secured, the “ability to pay” concept was modified steeply downward so that it all became northing more than a wealth redistribution scheme hidden in a nightmare of bureaucracy. Mao couldn’t have arranged it better.

In the end, Obamacare accomplished precious little. Providing health insurance for those that didn’t have it is only an accomplishment if it is paid for by someone other than our grandchildren. It actually would have been much less disruptive to simply raise taxes substantially and give away yet more freebies but that all would have been too blatant amidst a skyrocketing national debt. In pretending to solve a problem, Obamacare created more unaffordable government spending that no one will ever have the political will to eliminate.

But there was a problem that needed fixed. If you don’t think so, you likely weren’t self-employed or you didn’t have a family member with a pre-existing condition. Despite the conservative mantra, there are some societal ills for which hard work is not the remedy. Oddly, the very poor had some of the best coverage even prior to Obamacare – they could walk into a hospital emergency room, get treatment and walk out. They couldn’t be collected on, so everyone who could afford care would just pay higher rates to cover them.

The one good in Obamacare was that it guaranteed that health insurance could be purchased by everyone. Republicans will never be able to entirely repeal it, but they can build off this one achievement. What if they started not by financially enabling every American to buy a health insurance policy of their choice? And not just the poor. Every single American.

Last week, I covered the Prebate element of the Fair Tax. The Prebate would refund the tax on necessities up to the poverty line. All items would be taxed, including food and medicine, but Americans would get the tax on those items back in the form of a monthly payment.

The amount of the Prebate is in the range of what a simple high-deductible insurance policy might cost - $226 for one person, $690 for a family of five. What if the Prebate, instead of paid directly to the recipient monthly, was deposited into a Health Savings Account from which the recipient could purchase his or her own insurance and pay other health costs? If the luxury tax discussed last week was also dedicated to the Prebate, decent policies and additional money for out-of-pocket expenses are well within range.

And dig this: If a person seeking health care hadn’t bothered to purchase insurance with his or her Prebate funds, that’s when the government could step in – not to protect the person but to protect the health care providers and other consumers who would heretofore have had to make up the difference. If an American shows up at a doctor or hospital without insurance, he or she would automatically be covered by a government policy. That person’s Health Savings Account, which could only be accessed for personal withdrawal once a year, would be deducted for all months that a person couldn’t provide proof of private insurance and an apportioned amount of money sent back to pay for the default government insurance.

In this system, you are always covered and with your own money. You are encouraged to be a good steward of your Prebate because you can cash out what you don’t spend. If that happens once a year, why not on a person’s birthday? This is just for Americans by the way – illegals, you can buy insurance with your own money but no Prebate or government default insurance for you. Rather, illegals and foreign visitors would be supplementing our health care when they buy necessities here and pay our tax.

Just as good, this system would free Americans from the employer-based health care system we currently have. How many small businesses have not been started because a person could not afford to leave their employment’s health insurance? Your employer could still provide bonus coverage, but it would indeed be a fringe benefit. More likely, your employer would discontinue health coverage and be able to give you a substantial raise.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, with health insurance being universally provided in this way, much of Medicaid could be eliminated right along with the income tax, payroll taxes, estate taxes and corporate taxes. This means your state taxes would substantially decrease. Our country, and our lives, would begin to be affordable again. Then to Marx and Lenin’s horror, outside of national defense, we would start to wonder what any of us need a big government for?