Making Medicare Healthier

So, there it is.

A new President-Elect who doesn’t like the ACA. Actually, what he said in his acceptance speech was, “We’re going to get rid of Obamacare and replace it with something better!” Mysterious, isn’t it? What did he mean by that? Replace it? With what? Something better? Better for whom?

First of all, let’s get some “Definitions and Explanations” out of the way. Then you’ll be treated to something “Personal” about yours truly. You’ll hear an “Opinion” of mine. You’ll learn a “Fact” you might not be aware of, in the form of a contrast between two very close nations. And, finally, you’ll hear a “Simple Fix,” along with some adjunct “Consequences.”

DEFINITIONS AND EXPLANATIONS

Medicare is available to anyone over 65 (retirement age), or disabled. It’s basically an 80/20 proposition wherein the guvmint pays 80% of medical costs, while the citizen pays 20%. For a long time it did not include medications, which were becoming increasingly expensive, so a change was required.

Back in the early 20-aughts, there was this unlikely President with the unlikely moniker of G-Dubya who addressed that shortcoming. That’s known as Medicare Part D, and for a small-ish extra deduction, the citizen got prescription meds at a better price. Though Insurance companies were always trolling under the surface of Medicare, they stepped boldly into Part D and the citizen had to pick a plan.

This led to an outcry for national health care, and President Obama tried to get that past Congress and a bevy of lobbyists. Originally, it was called the Affordable Health Care Act (or, AHCA). It would be underwritten by Insurance companies, but there would be a “public option” for the citizen to choose the guvmint, and the guvmint would be the arbiter of how expensive the Insurance companies could charge and expect to get a meaningful piece of that pie. Unfortunately, the Insurance Lobby didn’t like that idea, so they refused to underwrite any of it while that public option was on the table. President Obama caved and removed this “single-payer health care system;” the Insurance Lobby got on board; chaos reigned among the citizenry because there were now too many bewildering options. Oh, and the deduction from Medicare income got bigger.

Somewhere along the line, the acronym for this was reduced to ACA (Affordable Care Act). Why they took the word “Health” out of it is a mystery, but there it is. Actually, in time the truth would come out. By putting the citizenry’s health care under the auspices of the Insurance companies, there are now conflicts about what will be covered, co-pays, formulary’s, etc, that allow the Insurance companies to play doctor. It was never really an Affordable Health Care Act because it was really an Affordable Health Insurance Act. The difference between “Care” and “Insurance” is significant. The citizens had no choice, because it became a crime punishable by a fine to not have insurance.

As time went on, it’s even lost its “Affordable” status, as Insurance companies are deserting segments of the population, and/or raising their premiums. In Arizona, Maricopa County — where Phoenix is — now has only two choices. In Pinal County to our south, they have NO choices. Senators McCain and Flakes are trying to enact an exception to the law that exempts such citizens from being punished.

So, now it is basically merely an “Act,” in so many, many ways.

PERSONAL REVEAL

I am disabled. I depend on this “Act” for some semblance of care. I have skin in this game. So, there it is.

OPINION

Any wealthy, progressive nation should assume responsibility to keep its citizenry healthy. America is wealthy, though “progressive” is in doubt at the moment. Many nations far less wealthy than the USofA provide for their citizen’s health.

You may have a different opinion, and that is fine. Go build your own website, meditate, then blog about your opinion over there. Invite me to have a look. Free speech and all that. So, there it is.

FACT

This will surprise many! According to a report dated 4 June 2009, published by the Denver Post, Americans spent 17% of their income on health care and only 85% of the population actually had coverage. Meanwhile, in Canada, they spent 10% of their income on health care in the form of a tax, and 100% of the population was covered. I tried to compile more current results, but the deeper you get into this, the more complicated it becomes; mainly because the Canadian tax is diluted across many expenses that have nothing to do with healthcare, and determining exactly how much of it goes to health care is like counting cards in a casino. They probably won’t throw you out of the country for that, though. After all, it’s Canada. So, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll go with this easier contrast.

Think about that fact. 17% versus 10%. 85% coverage versus 100% coverage. Add to it the reality that many Americans run both the southern and northern border for cheaper medications, and it won’t take long to figure out we are suckers. So, there it is.

SIMPLE FIX

Currently, President-Elect Trump and Speaker of the House Ryan are thinking about dissolving Medicare and replacing it with something called Privatization Insurance. In other words, the guvmint will give us a check that can be used to buy private insurance, even though it won’t cover the whole cost.

Currently, if you have Medicare now, you are not going to lose it. At least, that’s what we’re told. The Privatization Insurance will be for those going on Medicare in the future. What form this could actually take is unclear – mainly because lobbyists, congress folk, a new prez who doesn’t want to dissolve Medicare – all still will get a crack at it.

There is a much easier solution. Considering we already have the infrastructure called Medicare, it would be easier to expand it to all citizens. All of us can accept a – oh, compare the contrast under FACT and pick something between 10 and 17 percent – 13 or 14% health care tax. Everyone pays it, and health care is provided to all the citizens. Yes, the richer will pay more, but will have the joy and personal satisfaction of knowing they are helping their fellow citizens be healthier. (Sound naïve? Sure. But, this is exactly how Canadians view it. A healthier population helps those richer ones to become even richer due to improved working conditions.)

FIVE CONSEQUENCES

  • Insurance companies will get out of the doctor business and remain in the car, property, home, economic, and life business. There will be masses of lay-offs from this industry. However, the guvmint will need masses of extra staff that are already trained to do this, so virtually no-one needs to be unemployed.
  • The guvmint will need to establish qualifications for whom or what “approved health care providers” are, and regulate them.
  • The guvmint will need to regulate the pharmaceutical companies regarding how much profit they will allow the drug companies to make selling their drugs to the guvmint.
  • The expansion of the guvmint program, and regulating the medical industry, will drive fiscal conservatives stark, raving ga-ga.
  • Insurance Lobbyists will be invited to leave politicians alone, which will mean no more money mysteriously shifting from pocket to pocket. Now this one really IS naïve.

And there you have it. A simplified universal health care plan that would work, but no self-serving bureaucrat would ever let it become a reality. I think Bernie Sanders would have loved it.

So, there it is.

VA

14 November 2016

You might also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *