How to limit the rising cost of health care (or more accurately, health insurance) is one issue where there is a lot at stake and a clear difference between Democratic and Republican parties.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) will do a little, but not nearly enough, to slow the rise in the cost of health insurance (and thus, indirectly, the cost of health care) primarily by requiring private health insurance companies to pay out 80-85 percent of the money they receive as premiums for health care services (compared to the 70-75 percent that was the industry average before the act was passed).
The most cost effective means of reducing the cost of health care would be to cut the private health insurance companies out of the loop completely. They add nothing in terms of the quality or quantity of actual health care provided. Their overhead (including generous compensation for executives) and profits simply add to the cost of health care.
The additional costs of having private, for-profit insurance companies acting as middle men for the delivery of health care in the U. S. accounts for most, if not all, of the increased amount we pay for health care as a nation. Other industrialized countries have socialized health insurance or (in the case of Great Britain) socialized medical care.
Since Medicare adds only 3 percent for overhead to the cost of health care, we could realize significant savings by offering a public option to buy into Medicare. This idea was briefly discussed and quickly and quietly laid to rest during the negotiations related to The Affordable Care Act.
This is a prime example of how corporate influence keeps our government from serving the common interest. While the health insurance companies gave a little ground during the negotiations related to The Affordable Care Act, for the most part they got what they wanted: a mandate that everybody buy policies from them, with no public option as an alternative.
If we ever get a government that is no longer controlled by private corporations, and instead is truly “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” one sure sign of its arrival will be the adoption of some form of public option for health insurance.
Republicans are using their usual scare tactics, including deliberate mislabeling, by invoking the bogeyman of a government take-over of health care or socialized medicine. In reality, Obamacare is not even socialized health insurance (which is what most other industrialized countries have). Our real concern should be continuing a system where private, for-profit insurance companies act as the gatekeepers to health care, deciding which doctors we can see, what treatments will be approved for payment, etc.
The Ryan Plan to “save” Medicare (whether you call it a voucher plan or a “premium support” plan) simply moves tax dollars for Medicare from the government-run plan to private health insurance companies. It does nothing to contain or limit the cost of health care.
In fact, by moving seniors to private, for-profit insurance companies, with their higher overhead costs, the Ryan plan will actually either increase the amount of tax money spent on health care, or alternately, reduce the amount spent on actual medical care.
So, we the voters are left with a clear choice with regard to the issue of health insurance:
If the Republican party gains control of both houses of Congress and the White House, Obamacare will be repealed, Medicare will be turned into a voucher system, and funding for Medicaid will be altered to block grants to the states. The cumulative effects of theses changes would be to further line the pockets of private insurance companies, increase the cost of health insurance to seniors, and limit the availability of health care for the poor.
As long as we have divided government, the status quo will be as good as it gets. The Affordable Care Act will remain in place, but there will be nothing more done with regard to limiting further increases in the cost of health insurance or health care.
If the Democratic Party gains control of both the executive and legislative branches, we might (I emphasize might) see some movement toward a public option. That is one of the reasons I plan to vote a straight party (Democratic) ticket for the first time in my life this November.Powered by Sidelines