Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Universal Health Coverage

This article on MSNBC has, I think, a very good article explaining the basis for the proposed health care plan. If these ideas are what is being discussed through the House and Senate, I can get on board with it. Here are some reasons why:
Just as drivers must purchase auto insurance, the medical system of the future would put responsibility for health coverage first and foremost on every adult.
This analogy seems pretty reasonable to me. Auto insurance doesn't just protect me from other drivers, it protects other drivers from me. I can safely go out on the road knowing that I won't be driven into bankruptcy because some uninsured yahoo crashes into me. Yes, there is still a risk, but it is decreased greatly. Likewise, if everyone buys into health care coverage, not only will it help them, but it helps me. Here is how:
Nearly one-third of the uninsured in the United States in 2007 were between the ages of 19 and 29, and 42 percent were between 30 and 54, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A fair number of young, healthy workers choose not to purchase insurance, believing they do not need it.

Advocates of universal coverage want to lure that group into the insurance pool because they tend to use fewer medical services and help keep premiums down. If only the sick buy coverage, premiums will be high. And visits to emergency rooms by uninsured patients increase premiums for the insured — by $1,000 per person per year, according to some estimates.
The last figure mentioned, the $1,000 increase in premiums for the uninsured visiting ER's. That's a pretty powerful figure. I hear horror stories, all the time, from my friends who remain in the medical profession, about people who go to the ER for all sorts of non-ER related issues ... because they don't have health care. That sort of wastefulness needs to stop. Perhaps this can help.

Another reason to think this is workable is that there is precedent:
The concept is modeled after a requirement instituted in Massachusetts three years ago as part of that state's broad health-care overhaul. And like the Massachusetts law, the individual mandate proposed by congressional Democrats would be paired with a much more controversial new requirement that nearly every employer contribute to the total cost of care.
This has worked before, in Massachusetts, a law that was put into effect during the governorship of Republican Mitt Romney. Say what you want about the man, but I think he's demonstrated that he has been a shrewd business man, and I've got to think that he thought this would make good financial sense otherwise he would have opposed it. Currently, only about 3% of the citizens of Massachusetts are uninsured. I'm not sure how closely the new plan matches up with what was presented in Massachusetts, but hopefully Congress is smart enough to take a working model and use that as their template.


Anonymous said...

useful article.

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Tom said...

Thanks for the spammage link.