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Posts Tagged ‘H.R. 3200’

Your Family's Health Depends on Health Care Reform

Mon ,31/08/2009

“Your family’s health depends on the health of everyone.”

The advantages of health care reform have been lost in the politics and arguments about the Health Care Bill.  Here are some advantages :

Productivity. We would have happier and more productive citizens. Most people receive health care insurance from their employer.  There is a good reason for that. Healthy people are happier, perform better, are less likely to be hurt on the job, and miss fewer days of work  Offering healthcare benefits lets companies attract and retain better-qualified employees, shows that management cares about the workers, and is a great morale builder.  Couldn’t the same principles work on a national level?

Jobs. It would create job openings. One great way to create jobs would be to provide health benefits to those who wish to retire early. There are about 45 million baby boomers who are now between 55 and 65.  Many of them have the resources to retire early but feel they must continue working to retain their health care benefits.  Health care reform would let them retire early, opening up more jobs.

Bankruptcies could be  reduced by better health coverage. A Harvard study found that about 50% of all bankruptcies in the United States are caused by illness and unpaid medical bills. Bankruptcies affect everyone because the health providers, banks, businesses, and credit card companies who lose money in the bankruptcy pass the cost on to the rest of us. Bankruptcies were a big factor in our recent housing crisis that negatively affected us all.

Reduced Insurance Rates: The health care bill, as passed, requires that 80% of the premiums collected by insurance companies be paid back in benefits. Currently, the overhead for private insurance companies ranges from 15% to 35%. Those companies with high overheads will have to find ways to reduce their rates or be replaced by the more efficient companies.  Companies that pay back less than 80% will have to give refunds to their policy holders at the end of the year.

Healthier Americans. Your family’s health depends on the health of everyone. Unless you are a hermit, you will likely come into contact with thousands of people during this next winter. People without health care are less likely to receive immunizations and are much more likely to have untreated communicable diseases.   This is particularly important since a Swine Flu epidemic is a possibility.

The advantages of health care reform are obvious to those with no health insurance.  Remember, except for the Grace of God, that could be you.

Health Care Co-ops a Poor Option

Wed ,19/08/2009

Healthcare co-ops are now being promoted as a way to keep government out of healthcare. They might be effective at doing that but it is questionable whether they would be effective at providing health care reform. Most people don’t know about healthcare co-ops because they are not really an option for their healthcare. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) has proposed a co-op system in which the government would provide $6Billion in seed money to doctors, businesses and hospitals to form the co-ops. Eventually the co-ops would have to become self-supporting with premiums paid by members. Senator Conrad should be commended for his effort to find a bipartisan compromise but health care co-ops will do little to bring about health care reform.

 During the depression, the Farm Security Administration encouraged the development of rural health cooperatives, and at one point, they had about 600,000 members. Unfortunately, few co-ops survived after the FSA removed its support in the late 1940s. One that did is the Group Health Cooperative in Washington State and it is an example of a successful co-op. It has its own hospitals, hires its own Doctors at salary, and tightly manages its costs and membership. It took eighty years for the co-op to get where it is today and it is unlikely that a start up co-op could achieve the same success in a short time. When the seed money runs out, new co-ops would likely disappear and we will have spent $6Billion with little to show for it. Many health care co-ops have gone bankrupt. An example is Sunkist Growers , once a licensed insurance co-op that covered about 23,000 people. It fell into insolvency because claims outpaced income in 2001 and it left employers and medical providers holding the bag for about $11 million in unpaid medical claims.

Some healthcare co-ops negotiate with private insurance companies to provide insurance for their members. Their advantage is that they provide group insurance rates to small businesses, farmers, and individuals who might otherwise have difficulty negotiating favorable insurance rates.  Their disadvantage is that their rates, co-pays, network providers, and pre-existing condition policies are very much like any other private insurer. One such company is the Farmers Health Cooperative in Wisconsin which cooperates with Aetna and functions much like a PPO.  It has been successful because its members are reasonably healthy people. Co-op health care has mostly been successful in such small demographic niches. Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, says that “if co-ops attract high-risk people, who would otherwise go uncovered, it could bleed the co-op’s funding dry.”

Government is already providing health care. It is a strange spectacle to see Medicare recipients, Veterans, Congressional Representatives, and Senators decry socialized medicine when they, in fact, benefit from public subsidized health care. Would they be willing to put aside their present health coverage and go on a co-op system? I think not!  The Health Care Reform Bill, H.R. 3200, is a reasonable bill and it should not be replaced by a health co-op system unlikely to be successful.

Research Credit: Barbara Moore