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home : letters : letters August 21, 2017

4/14/2017 7:29:00 AM
'Pros and cons of Affordable Care Act'

To the Editor:

There is much discussion about the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act, which the republicans have vowed to repeal, and the American Health Care Act. There are good and bad aspects to both. They are free market based systems and that, in my opinion, is their major flaw. They treat health care as a commodity, to be bought and sold for profit. We have been reduced to consumers instead of patients. We have to shop for the "right" policy at the best price for our current needs at the best price ... a very difficult task. And, in most cases, if you have health insurance through your employer you don't really have a choice of plans. If you or your employer chooses poorly, out of pocket costs could and do lead to medical bankruptcy. Of the over a million medical bankruptcies that are filed annually 75 percent had health insurance.

The best replacement has been proposed by Rep John Conyers with HR 676 - Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. This plan is a "single payer" health care system, just like Medicare and Medicaid. The benefits are numerous with the biggest one being a decrease in cost. Medicare for All would require the payer (the government) to negotiate drug prices for the lowest cost possible like the VA does, yet still is profitable for the drug companies. The money saved in drugs alone would be over 100 billion dollars per year. Also, this plan would reduce the huge administrative costs of hospitals and health care providers that currently have to deal with the complexities of private (for profit) insurance companies just to get paid. These administrative costs add up to over $500 billion dollars per year. This is 30-35 percent of the total U.S. spending on health care, yet provides no value what so ever. Current Medicare administrative costs are approximately 3 percent.

Another benefit is universal coverage. All in, nobody out. Every legal U.S. citizen would be guaranteed coverage including dental, vision and long-term care. It would no longer matter if one was married or single, employed or seeking employment of retired. Young, old rich and poor would all receive health care under HR 676.

We would also get to choose our health care provider, not an insurance company deciding for us who is in or out of our "network." Your chosen doctor would make all medical decisions based on best practices not what the insurance company will pay.

The biggest argument against the plan is that it is a government take over of health care. Not true. Like Medicare is now, each health care provider, clinic and hospital are independently run. Under single payer the government only pays the bills rather than private for profit insurance companies with their thousands of different policies.

Another argument is that taxes would increase. This is true. However, insurance premiums, co pays, deductibles, vision care, nursing home care, dental care costs would all be eliminated saving money for 95 percent of people. A simple exercise is to multiply 6 percent by your income and on the other side add up all costs that you now pay. In all but 5 percent or fewer of us (those that have incomes over $400,000) the costs will be substantially less. In my own situation I am on Medicare and have a Cadillac supplement and I would save $5,000 per year. A friend who is in the ACA and has health issues would save more like $20,000 per year.

All businesses large and small should be demanding single payer health care. They would be able to control costs by not having to pay for health insurance for their employees. Hiring decisions would be based on a person's abilities not on their health care costs. They would also no longer have to pay the 1.75 percent Medicare tax on their employees. All of this should make businesses better able to control costs thus making them more competitive in the global market and boosting their earnings substantially.

Since the U.S. is the richest and greatest county on Earth, why can't we have guaranteed health care like the democratic free-market countries that are our neighbors and allies, all of whom have better health outcomes that the U.S.? We should be demanding it.

A rally was held Friday, April 7 at Torpy Park and more will be held in the future. Health Care, or the lack of it, affects all of us regardless of political persuasion.

Dedie Hanson

Lac du Flambeau

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, April 14, 2017
Article comment by: William Hunter

Oh would that it were true. I advise Ms. Hudson to review the entire panoply of government programs, and find just one, please just one, that performs as she suggests Rep Conyers' plan will.

It is always nice and neat to posit government programs that will not end up with an immensely overweight administrative bureaucracy that eats all the market efficiencies promised, plus more and more and more.

Please show me one, just one, and I will happily submit to government run, single payer health care.

How about the Veterans Administration and the government run health care plan our government provides there? A model of economically efficient quality service, right, Ms. Hanson?

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