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  • Lessons from the States on the Costs of Universal Health Care

    According to Gallup, 89% of adults report that they are currently covered by private health insurance, or a federal program such as Medicare or Medicaid. Only 11% say they have no health insurance. Also 58% of Americans are satisfied with the total cost that they pay for their health care. Compare that to the 79% of Americans who say they are dissatisfied with the total cost of health care in this country, a figure up from 71% in 2001.

    It would seem form these results that Americans want to keep their choice in health care provider and would not like to see the total cost of health care in this country sky rocket. Unfortunately that is exactly the opposite direction President-elect Barak Obama wants to take us. We have already seen what happens when health insurance is guaranteed to all in both Hawaii and Massachusetts.

    Hawaii enacted government subsidized universal health care in 2007, but abandoned it after just 7 months. Hawaii Department of Human Services’ Dr. Kenny Fink explained, “People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free. I don’t believe that was the intent of the program.” In other words the costs were just too high.

    Massachusetts has experienced similar problems with their universal health care plan. The state vastly underestimated the costs of their program which led to a $100 million state budget shortfall this year. And the problem will only get worse. The program is expected to roughly double in size and expense over the next three years.

    Think that number of 79% of Americans who are dissatisfied with the total cost of health care in this country will go up if the left succeeds in establishing a national universal health care plan? Meanwhile, under the current system, economist Mark Perry reports:

    NPR had a segment today about getting insurance quotes through a website called eHealthInsurance.com.

    For a 36-year old male living in my area, there were 119 quotes through eHealthInsurance with monthly premiums ranging from a low of $37 per month ($10,000 deductible, co-insurance of 20%) to a high of $232 per month ($0 deductible, 0% coinsurance), and there were 62 different plans with premiums of $100 per month of less. For a 36-year old female, the premiums are slightly higher, ranging from $47 to $307 per month.

    Bottom Line: At a monthly cost comparable to a typical monthly cable TV plan, and maybe even about the same cost as a monthly cell phone plan, isn’t it true that an individual can easily purchase relatively affordable health insurance in the private market? I wonder how many of the 47 million have cable TV and cell phones, and voluntarily chose not to buy health insurance, even though they obviously can afford it?

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Lessons from the States on the Costs of Universal Health Care

    1. Pingback: Lessons from the States on the Costs of Universal Health Care « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    2. Christine F G Toevs says:

      My biggest complaint with our health insurance provider (AMS) is that even at a$5000 deductible and 20% co-ins our premiums have risen every year at about 15-16% above the previous year – even though industry reports in the last couple of years state -"healthbenefit costs up 6%" (NOT OURS) Yet for many years we have switched insurance companys & plans about every 2-3 years to try to keep our premiums around $300/month for a family of 4 there comes a time with age & new health issues – this is harder to do than when young & in excellent health. Also — we choose not to seek medical help for many minor stuff ( even badly sprained ankles) and are resentful about not having any $incentives to get our annual wellness checks (PAP mammo etc) – which tend to get strung out to 18 mo intervals to reduce costs.

      When we have needed emergency or hospital services – there are ALWAYS nasty surprises ( like being assigned an out of network DR to read scans or to the sign discharge papers(& being billed for something out of our control or approval)- the base knowledge needed to deal with the labarinth of insurance"rules"& restrictions is well beyond that of "av Joe 6 pack" and a real challenge to us (with good college educations) – much of our wariness about dealing with the whole mess of "health-care USA" has come from hard experience and first hand learning. We are reasonably intellingent comparitive shoppers but – to navigate the cumbersome US health insurance – provider industry is so overwhelming ( especially in crisis times) that we just pray to stay very well & healthy & avoid having to deal with it more than necessary for wellness screenings! Our insurance coverage is a necessary evil as we have small business & hard earned savings assets that need protection in case of a medical disaster. IJUST WANT PREMIUM STABILTY – with only regular inflation (COLA) increases ONLY)

      That said I abhor the prospect of a govt run single payer system – i believe passionately in the free enterprise of the value market place – BUT somehow it has broken down in the US health care industy and we the consumera are at the bottom of the heap getting shafted every which way!!

    3. Peter Ullrich, Neena says:

      We already have a largely nationalized healthcare system that is broken. More than 50% of the population is currently under Medicare or Medicaid. Despite the fact that neither system reimburses hospitals or physicians at a level that covers their cost, the growth of these programs has been astronomical.

      There are only two ways to control regulate the cost and distribution of goods. Either market forces are allowed to dictate costs and usage, or a beaurocratic body needs to arbitrarily come up with rules and regulations. As we have seen in all other areas of the economy government involvement does not create greater effeciency and innovation (think Fannie Mae and Fredie Mac).

      A completely nationalized healthcare system will eventually lead to higher costs with delivery of inadequate healthcare.

      What we need is for congress to pass laws that level the playing field and encourage competition among health insurers. People should own their health insurance and not the employers. All patients should be able to buy private health insurance, and if they can't afford it, or if they are to ill to be effectively underwritten by a private company, then the cost of the insurance could be backstopped by the government. European countries are now currently experimenting with such a system. The beauty of this solution would be we could dismantle the overly regulated government health insurance entities. This would be a far more practical solution than expanding the federally funded programs to get to the holy grail of "universal coverage.

    4. David Dillon, Ohio says:

      Who wrote this bunch of tripe? By admission of the very article you cite as the basis for your accusation that Obama is leading us toward universal health care, there are no DETAILS about Obama's health care plan, therefore no one KNOWS what the costs will be. The citation that Obama would create a single payer system is put back into context by the qualification he himself gives, "If I were designing a system from scratch…" He's NOT CREATING A HEALTH CARE SYSTEM FROM SCRATCH. He's never proposed to do so.

      Additionally, I take issue with the NPR citation you provide. This is no revelation that young and healthy individuals can get insurance for fairly reasonable rates. This is not the demographic targeted by any form of universal coverage. The demographic affected by, and therefore eligible for, any form of universal coverage would be those affected by the insurance carriers' ability to cherry-pick their customers and are those who do not fall into the above category, namely the elderly, the infirm, and the unemployed. Even among those who have insurance, the number of under-insured Americans is growing. If you don't believe me, I direct you to the Healthcare Financial Management Association website, http://www.hfma.org. Healthcare institutions are deeply concerned with the growning dollar amounts they consider self-pay, either because of high deductibles or the insurance carrier's ability to dodge and dance and delay payment almost indefinately.

      I tend toward a conservative mindset with regard to politics, but this article is so poorly thought out that it reads as nothing more than a right-wing bit of rubbish.

    5. mill valley ca says:

      dear d dillion;

      if you want a single payer system…just say so.

      no one wandering around the heritage site is fooled by your "conservative mindset".

      there is no doubt that obama is in favor of single payer…he has said so on many occasions.

      i am not.

    6. David Dillon, Ohio says:

      Mill Valley, what part of my comments cause you to decide I want a single-payer system? Let me quote from Obama's website what his healthcare proposal include, since you apparently haven't read it: "Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s plan strengthens employer–based coverage, makes insurance companies accountable and ensures patient choice of doctor and care without government interference. Under the plan, if

      you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year. If you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options."

      I didn't see one mention of a single-payer system in there, did you? This is a common scare tactic of conservatives that is as ineffective as the scare tactics used by liberals. Cite facts, not conjecture, if you want to have meaningful debate.

    7. Pingback: Underheight.com » Blog Archive » The Upcoming Health Care Debate

    8. Barb -mn says:

      Dear David Dillion,

      I hate to burst your bubble but where I live, insurance is readily available. Companies have it for their employers and this state has it for those who just don't want to pay or accept it from their employers. And the state gives it away PREFERENTIALLY. Many who get it at no cost to themselves take full advantage of it as if it should never be apart of their costs or priorities.

      I personally know that many are living better then we, less that responsibility and expense. People need to carry out their responsibilities to themselves and children at their own costs.

      If all paid for their OWN, the cost would be more reasonable to ALL.

    9. duelles says:

      I have my own insurance. If Obama makes it cheap or free I will choose that – all things being equal. Dillion it is a de facto not de jure push to single payer. Think it through!!

      His plan will create a situation that may encourage those like myself or even employers to go for the gov't program. Any time the gov't is in an industry there really is no even playing field. They should be making it easier for private industry to accomplish goals, but NOOOOOOO, they interfere and therefore eliminate possible innovations by unfairly subsidizing.

      Get gov't out of business. Why isn't the equal protection clause taken seriously. Most of what they do is unconstitutional.

      Healthcare is expensive partly because we don't care how much anything costs since our insurance company pays.

    10. Walter Burghardt says:

      More info for you. Percentages of covered and "choice" comments are significant.

    11. LEPREZ says:

      how can someone compare the cost of Healthcare to the cost of cable TV? what about pre-exisisting conditions not covered by the plan? or the extra costs on medication? or the out of pocket expense you pay every time you get to see a physician? what about the 75$ for every Specialist visit anyone in your family has? I used to work for a Healthcare organization with 20,000 employees. My Careplan for the family was about $110 a month. We were not sick, no athsma, or allegies here. The employer was picking up about 500-750 dollars a month of the cost. My cable bill is about 80 bucks, flat fee….Bunch Hypocrites

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