Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sicko Or Slicko?

Does Universal Health Care Have a Chance? :

ABC News' Dr. Tim Johnson Calls the Kennedy-Dingell Plan 'Bold' and 'Politically Brilliant'

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., have introduced a new plan for universal health care coverage that would give every American access to health care within five years.

The plan tackles the problem of the more than 46 million uninsured Americans by giving the uninsured a choice to use Medicare or the federal employees' health plan.

Everyone with a social security number would be covered for their entire lives under this plan. People could also choose to stick with their employer's health plan.

The Kennedy-Dingell plan would be largely publicly financed by taxing payrolls.

"It turns out that's a much more effective way to collect money," Johnson said.

"For example, most companies spend 13 percent of all their payroll costs buying their employees health insurance. Under this system, the companies would pay a new 7 percent payroll tax. Health care costs for employers should be cut nearly in half, and the government will still have enough money to finance the new plan because of efficiencies and savings."

Companies that don't provide health insurance would have to start paying into the pool with the 7 percent payroll tax. Johnson said the costs will be cheaper overall because the risks will be spread out over the entire population.

Critics of the plan call it socialized medicine run by the government.

---------- My problem with government running anything is the anything always becomes a higher-cost yoke around the neck of Joe Blow.

When the media hypes anything as being of "crisis" proportion I'm skeptical. Personally, knowing folks from every income bracket all my life I have yet to know one person who was unable to access affordable healthcare. Whether through Medicaid, Medicare, free clinics, sliding scale income clinics, private or employer insurance, indigent programs, or the government picking up the tab for the poorest.

Years ago, in the late '70s, hubby's employer provided family plan health insurance at $36 per month. Using the inflation calculator that would cost us $77 in today's dollars. The plan also included vision and dental. In 1982 our 2 y/o daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer. Her medical bills were 6 figures and our portion of the cost was 0, zero. The plan covered 100 percent of catastrophic illness/accident for all employees, hourly and salaried. The same company today provides 75 percent coverage at 5 times the monthly premium. (This corporation profits best during war so bottom line doing better today than in the '80s.)

During the '80s and '90s worker benefits were cut simply for greed, for shareholders, for dividends, profit margins. Unions were busted and employers cut benefits; healthcare, vacation time, wages. The Reagan/Clinton era of outsourcing, off-shoring, downsizing. Obscene perks and benefits were and still are awarded to cost-cutting CEOs & management who can cut Joe Blow the deepest.

Maybe corporate America didn't mind providing as people were healthier a few decades ago – before junk food, fast food, and tranquilized couch potato bodies became epidemic. On the horizon now are aging baby boomers and their spoiled offspring who need care after decades of dyed grease and sugar Mc-Life. The medical care costs are going to be huge. If wage earners think their payroll taxes are high now – just wait as more of the generation of gluttony incurs major medical expenses. Americans today also run for pharma-attention with every sniffle, sneeze, headache, and bad mood. Can I have that purple pill I saw on TV for acid reflux because I eat like a pig and never exercise? Never mind that the cure is lifestyle changes and a spoonful of apple cider vinegar.

According to Wikipedia (links to references) : "... most Americans, 59.5%, receive their health insurance coverage through an employer, and about 9% purchase it directly from the market. Government sources cover 27.3% of the population (80.2 million). In 2005, there were 46.6 million people in the U.S. (15.9% of the population) who were without health insurance for at least part of that year. Among the uninsured, nearly 37 million were employment-age adults (ages 18 to 64), and more than 26 million worked at least part time. Approximately a quarter of the uninsured live in households with an income over $50,000. It is estimated that nearly one fifth of the uninsured population is able to afford insurance, almost one quarter is eligible for public coverage, and that the remaining 56% need financial assistance (8.9% of all Americans)."

Let's see, 8.9 percent of all Americans needing healthcare coverage assistance is roughly 26 million. Surely these 26M are scattered across all 50 states. Wouldn't it be best if individual states provided that coverage without Federal BigDaddy?

As the Kennedy/Dingell plan above states "companies would pay a new 7 percent payroll tax … health care costs for employers should be cut nearly in half … "

So who will really benefit from universal healthcare? Is there a crisis in healthcare or does Big Business, Big Pharma and AMA want more profit at less expense?

Kinda smells like another way for the corporatocracy to cut costs and let Joe Blow pick up the whole tab at some point.

As the man says … "the costs will be cheaper overall because the risks will be spread out over the entire population." Population means worker/you, spread out to cover the costs. And I see a red flag when Wal-Mart, initially "acting" against universal health care, is now supporting it.

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