Sunday, October 10, 2004

Get health care costs off employers' backs with Medicare for all

This TIME magazine article lays out the case for government-funded health care, instead of for-profit insurance company funded health care, as 30 times more administrative efficient than the way we do it now.

Here's how they lead the article:

This is the picture of health care in America. We spend more money than anyone else in the world — and yet have less to show for it than other developed countries. That's one reason we don't live as long. We don't adequately cover half the population. We encourage hospitals and doctors to perform unnecessary medical procedures on people who don't need them, while denying procedures to those who do. We charge the poor far more for medical services than we do the rich. We force senior citizens with modest incomes to board buses to Canada to buy drugs they can't afford in America. We clog our emergency rooms with patients because they can't get in to see their doctors. We spend more money treating disease than preventing it. We are victims of rampant fraud and overbilling. We stand a good chance of dying from a mistake if we are admitted to a hospital, and we kill more people with prescription drugs than with street drugs like cocaine and heroin. We have an endless choice of health-care plans, but most people have few real choices. We are forced to hold bake sales, car washes and pancake breakfasts to pay the medical bills of family members and friends when a catastrophic illness strikes.

Americans tend to believe they have the best health care in the world, but in truth it is a second-rate system and destined to get a lot worse and much more expensive.

--- a quick description of the cheaper alternative, Medicare ---

We already have universal health care and a single-payer system for everybody age 65 and over: it's called Medicare. For years, researchers and health-care professionals have advocated a similar plan for the rest of the population, but no plan has ever got far in the legislative process because of fierce opposition by the health-care industry. To discredit the single-payer idea, insurers, HMOs, for-profit hospitals and other private interests play on Americans' long-standing fears of Big Government. In truth, it is the private market that has created a massive bureaucracy, one that dwarfs the size and costs of Medicare, the most efficiently run health-insurance program in the U.S. in terms of administrative costs. Medicare's overhead averages about 2% a year. In a 2002 study for the state of Maine, Mathematica Policy Research Inc. concluded that administrative costs of private insurers in the state ranged from 12% to more than 30%. That isn't surprising because unlike Medicare, which relies on economies of scale and standardized universal coverage, private insurance is built on bewildering layers of plans and providers that require a costly bureaucracy to administer, much of which is geared toward denying claims.

--- and my favorite snippet at the end ---

America's privately funded system puts U.S. companies at a disadvantage to their competitors in the industrialized world, where health care is funded by government. GM says the cost of providing health care to its workers and retirees totals $1,400 for each vehicle sold in the U.S., more than the cost of steel.


WOW! So in other words, without government-run health care, we shoot our manufacturing industry in the foot by putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage to every other Western nation's manufacturing companies.

Can we get the Manufacturers' Associations on board the government-funded health care train, so that we don't saddle businesses that are competing in a global market with the cost of providing health care to their workers? If we can't, they should stop listening to the parasitic insurance companies.

No comments: