Kellia’s World – Recommended Reading

Challenging the assumptions we live by — Because I want to.

Posts Tagged ‘single payer health care’

Health Care Poll

Posted by kelliasworld on March 29, 2009

Courtesy of Bia Winter and OpEd News

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Posted in America, Health Insurance | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

President Obama: Hypocrite and Hater on Single Payer Health Care

Posted by kelliasworld on March 26, 2009

Original Article

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
“…the Obama Administration’s emerging health care plan is expected to be based upon a model that has failed multiple times, most recently in Massachusetts”

Obama likes to say that the insurance industry employs tens or hundreds of thousands, and we cannot just displace them. That’s hating. But his advisers know perfectly well that single payer health care insurance would create 2.6 million new jobs, after allowing for the 440,000 insurance company jobs it would do away with a fact detailed in the groundbreaking report issued earlier this year by the National Nurses Organizing Committee. Instead, in the spirit of a dishonest hater, Obama has tried to ban from public forums any discussion of the single payer health care option, despite the fact that it has massive support among the people who voted for him. That is hypocrisy.

When the Obama campaign asked for house meetings across the nation on health care, the option suggested most often was indeed single payer. So you didn’t hear much of anything about the outcomes of those meetings. If that’s not dishonest hating on single payer health care it’s hard to imagine what is.

Instead, the Obama Administration’s emerging health care plan is expected to be based upon a model that has failed multiple times, most recently in Massachusetts, which includes “individual mandates” requiring people above a certain income level to purchase private insurance or face a fine, and provides some kind of care at subsidized rates to those with the lowest incomes. A recent study by physicians at Harvard Medical School meticulously exposes the predictable failure of the Massachusetts Plan live up to any of its promises, and explains succinctly why no “individual mandate” which subsidizes private insurance companies should be a model for any national health care plan.

It’s called “Massachusetts’ Plan” A Failed Model for Health Care Reform”, and you can find it online here. In it, Drs. Rachel Narden, David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, all of Harvard Medical School deliver a withering assessment of the plan’s failure, and explain why it must not be a model for any national health care plan worthy of the name.

These are the key features of the Massachusetts Plan upon which Obama’s health care plan is modeled.

1. Subsidized private insurance is made available for the poorest at reduced or no cost through a state agency.
2. Unsubsidized private insurance at controlled costs was to be made available for those who made a little more.
3. As with automobile insurance, those not qualifying for subsidized insurance would be fined ($912 a year in 2008, $1,068 in 2009, collected with your state income tax) for failing to purchase insurance.
4. Employers were required to pay $295 a year for each employee they didn’t give health insurance to.
5. To control costs, funds to pay for the program were taken from the existing pool that previously financed “safety net” care for the poor and uninsured, leaving many with fewer options and less care than was available before the “reform.”

But the subsidized health insurance policies available to the poor in Massachusetts often covered fewer services than they were already receiving under previously existing conditions, and the greater the “income” of these poor people, the lower the subsidy and higher the deductibles. Under the Massachusetts Plan, the subsidies vanish altogether when one makes 300% of the ridiculously low Federal Poverty Level — about $31,000 per year.

Despite the fines for persons who fail to buy health insurance under the so-called “individual mandate” plans, many remain uninsured because coverage is simply not affordable.
“…the reform law specifically exempts uninsured families from fines if no affordable private plan is available. About 79,000 Massachusetts uninsured residents received this exemption in 2007, which excused them from fines, but left them uninsured.

“The private insurance plans available through the Commonwealth Choice program can be extremely expensive. According to the Connector website (accessed December 29, 2008 at http://www.mahealthconnector.org) the cheapest plan available to a middle-income 56-year-old now costs $4,872 annually in premiums alone. However, if the policy holder becomes sick, (s)he must pay an additional $2,000 deductible before insurance kicks in. Thereafter the policy holder pays 20% co-insurance (i.e. 20% of all medical bills) up to a maximum of $3,000 annually ($9,872 in total annual costs including premium, deductible and co-insurance). A need for uncovered services (e.g. physical therapy visits beyond the number covered) would drive out-of pocket costs even higher. It is not surprising that many of the state’s uninsured have declined such coverage.”

How can someone making $31,000 a year pay $90 a week in premiums alone, plus $20% of all medical bills up to $3,000 if they get sick? Is calling this “reform” even the least bit honest? Or is it hypocrisy?
The study makes the point again and again that access to health insurance is not the same as access to health care. A full third of every health care dollar is already diverted to private insurance companies. The Massachusetts Plan, and the emerging Obama Plan seem intended to preserve this cut for private insurers, even at the expense of needed care. “…(T)he new inssurance policies that replced the (previous) free care system require co-payments for office visits and prescriptions, which are difficult for many low income patients to pay…” says the study, hence patients suffering from HIV-AIDS and other chronic conditions have had to reduce doctor visits or skip their meds due to the high co-payments that the “reform” required.

The report outlines how the advocates of these private insurance industry endorsed versions of health care reform have lied in state after state where this has been tried — in Oregon, Maine, Vermont, Tennessee and elsewhere. We encourage our readers to download and read it, at only 18 pages, as an antidote to whatever form of “individual mandate” health plan is finally proposed by the Obama Administration.

Plans of this type have not lowered overall health care costs, either. They provide no incentive to tone down the over-reliance on expensive techniques and specialists, and produce more primary care physicians, the doctors who provide day to day, person to person coverage. Obama’s offer to “let’s computerize medical records” as a cost-saving procedure sounds nice, but falls flat. Most of the unnecessary paperwork is between care givers, hospitals and insurers with a vested interest in saying no to this or that treatment, test, or medicine.

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama declared we should judge his first term by whether, under his leadership, the nation finally enacted national health care system that takes care of everybody and lowers the cost of health care. Now we are in the middle of a completely foreseeable economic crisis caused in part by many of the people who are advising the president. Single payer health care has come to the fore as a viable means to create 2.6 million new jobs, a proposal that Obama’s advisors neither address nor discuss.

Sixty days into his presidency, the clock is ticking. Lofty rhetoric and lawyerly evasions are giving way to actual policies, many of them deeply disappointing to the people who campaigned and voted for this president. It looks like national health care for everybody is a dream, that if left up to this president and his advisers, will be deferred again. The question is, should we leave it up to them at all?

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He is based in Atlanta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
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We can’t displace all the people who work in the health insurance industry? Sure we can. If businesses weren’t burdened with health insurance costs, maybe they could afford to hire the displaced workers. If not, let those workers RETRAIN, like so many other workers in other industries have been told to do. What is so sacred about the jobs in the health insurance industry? Nothing. Because it’s not the secretaries, data entry clerks and other day-to-day workers Obama really cares about. It’s the fat cat executives with hefty salaries whom he is trying to protect.

As for the argument that people have to buy auto insurance so they should also have to buy health insurance, I say that there are alternatives to driving. If you cannot afford auto insurance, you can take the bus, or train, or bike, or walk, or get a ride from another driver. The alternative to unaffordable health insurance is uninsurance, possibly a fine if you live in Massachusetts, and no care, or lack of timely care, if you are trying to not incur the bills. If an emergency occurs and you are forced to incur the bills, you then face a year or more of financial stress, harassment, collections and ruined credit. — K.R.

Posted in America, Economics, Health Insurance, Obama | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Laid-Off Workers Struggle to Pay for Health Insurance

Posted by kelliasworld on January 26, 2009

The United States began the New Year with 11.1 million people unemployed. In December alone, construction companies slashed 101,000 jobs, manufacturers axed 149,000, and professional and business services issued 113,000 pink slipped.  A report issued by a group advocating for health care consumers says the unemployed are finding it extremely difficult to pay health insurance premiums with their paltry unemployment benefits and alternatives are inadequate or non-existent.

Audio news story:

cobra-bites

The “health insurance through employment” system was devised during WWII. During a wartime wage and price freeze,  businesses were allowed to compete for employees by offering fringe benefits. It worked under the conditions of the time.

But now we see that the system is seriously flawed. Everyone needs health care at some point. Why should one’s access depend on whether other not one has a job with enough hours at a big enough company? Why should businesses bear the cost (including the administrative costs) of health care? Why should insurance companies be allowed to profit from people’s health needs and be allowed to “cherry pick” the healthiest of us to pay premiums to line their pockets, while ignoring the sick?

Universal single-payer health care is the only way to handle the issue fairly for consumers and for businesses. The United States is the only industrialized nation to not have it. Here it is decried as “socialized medicine.” We hear arguments  about waiting times under national health programs in other countries; the propaganda in this country is that “socialized medicine” is inefficient. But I am sure you or someone you know has dealt with unacceptable wait times. We have the most expensive health care in the world and millions who can’t access it, or who go bankrupt trying to do so. This is efficient?

Just what is wrong with “socialized” medicine? We have socialized police and fire protection. The very politicians who decry “socialized medicine” don’t seem to mind the bloated budget and inefficiences of the “defense” system we all pay for! Why should we have to be profitable to someone (or married to or the minor child of someone who is) before we can get health care?

Posted in America, Health Insurance, Kellia's News Reports | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Obama and Single Payer Health Care

Posted by kelliasworld on November 12, 2008

On November 9, 2008, I did a story on Obama and single payer health care for radio station KPFA-FM Berkeley, CA.

ramares-on-single-payer-110908

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