Monday, June 22, 2009

If We Really Want Everyone in America to Have Health 'Insurance'.....

Let's help everyone buy health insurance, then!

The issue of health care reform always gets blurred by politicians talking about 'health care coverage' as if it is the exact same thing as "health insurance" coverage. They are most definitely not the same thing.

'Health care coverage' implies that all of the costs of everyone's health care costs will be paid for by someone else, namely corporate-sponsored health care plans or directly from the government through reimbursements from Medicare or Medicaid. There is no way on God’s green earth that we will ever be able to pay for everyone’s entire health care costs each year through expanded Medicare/Medicaid-type direct or reimbursed payments from the government or through employer-sponsored health payment plans.

Nor should we do that as a matter of national public policy.

'Health insurance' means that payments are made to for-profit health care insurance companies such CIGNA or non-profits such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and then they pay for the costs as stated in their plans. Remember, only 1% of the American public gets ill enough each year such that they account for 20% of all the health care spending; 10% of the population gets ill enough to consume 60% of all health care spending in any given year. We just don’t know which ones will be the unfortunate 1% or 10% each year. We need to find a way to fund comprehensive insurance to cover the cost of these expensive situations to save the families from bankruptcy and the taxpayer from chasing an ever-expanding list of health expenses for everyone in the nation.

We submit that now is the time to remove the confusion between the two approaches. It should be clearly stated by leaders on both sides of the aisle in Washington that the intent of public health care policy in America is to help provide comprehensive, high-level 'insurance' protection for every American as the foundation for a new approach to health care going forward.

Once we know exactly where we are heading, our elected leaders can then make decisions that are productive, cost-effective and fix this problem now instead of kicking it down the road again for our kids to deal with...again.

Plus, we also submit that converting all of the existing resources in Medicare and Medicaid is the only way out of this precarious budgetary predicament we find ourselves now drowning in. There are no other viable options out there any longer...this problem has been brewing and percolating for the past 25 years or more and we have backed ourselves into the proverbial corner with no other way out.

On the one hand, you have the Scylla of explosive national budget deficits and debt threatening the future vitality of the American economic system. On the other, you have the Charybdis of millions of Americans going long periods of time without the insurance coverage they need to cover expensive medical care should they ever need it. [1]

But people say, "But you can't do that! You can't take all of those entitlement dollars away from the holy sacrosanct health entitlement programs, Medicare and Medicaid to pay for this! That is why they are called "entitlement programs!"

Why not? Why can't we take these dedicated payroll tax funds to pay for 'health insurance coverage' for the same people already covered by both programs? The only difference is that under this new plan, these funds will be used to buy legitimate health insurance plans in the private market for all people who can not afford it solely on their own of regardless of family income and wealth status, not solely because of age. Plus everyone finally will be part of the broader health insurance pool where the basic fundamental principles of insurance can fully implemented. Vast numbers of healthy younger people's premiums can be matched against older or poorer people's risk profiles to balance out all the costs nationwide in a more efficient manner.

We really only have two ways to go on health care in our opinion: 1) continue down the same tortured, convoluted path on our current patchwork of health care in America that is taking us down the pathway to financial ruin or 2) adopt this radical (meaning ‘returning to the root’ or the basics) proposal to fund health care insurance for all Americans on a basis scaled by income and solve this problem once and for all.

[1] Scylla and Charybdis are the two monsters in Greek mythology that sat on opposite sides of a narrow strait forcing Odysseus to make the choice between going too close to one side and losing a few sailors or veering too close to the other and losing more

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