Today’s New York Times Opinion piece on universal health care is a timely one, given the attempts by the medical-industrial complex and their allies to derail any move towards health care for all. It is even more important now that the 2020 Democratic primary campaign is gaining momentum.
Following on the heels of yesterday’s post from Joe, today’s post covers the cost of healthcare, and what Medicare for All could do to solve it.
Recently, two billionaires, Former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former barista-in-chief Howard Schultz have both said that the US cannot afford Medicare for All/Single Payer health care.
But if we look at Joe’s article, and his subsequent ones later this week, can we afford not to?
Here’s Joe’s article:
This week we are unpacking Single Payer/Medicare for All to better understand the many variations of SP/MFA and now they are different, how those variations might work, and whether some version is a) politically viable and b) would solve the … Continue reading Could Medicare for All Solve the healthcare cost problem?
Once again, my fellow blogger, Joe Paduda hits it out of the ballpark in explaining Single Payer and Medicare For All.
Most of what you hear comes from politicians and a few billionaires, one running for President and one not; one a former barista, the other a former big city mayor.
But there is also a lot of misinformation and wrong information on the Internet, especially on social media sites like LinkedIn, where the professionals in the health care or insurance space spout off their opposition to Single Payer/Medicare For All mostly because it will disrupt their businesses and may even cost them their jobs. But never mind that millions of Americans can’t afford insurance, or have very little insurance to protect them in case of severe illness or disease.
These individuals are not physicians, nor are they executives with insurance companies, or hospitals; but rather, they are consultants and analysts who offer their services to the health care industry.
But not all commenters are in the health care field, many are just average business people or citizens who put their two cents into the discussion threads, without knowing what they are talking about, or without any facts to back up their argument.
One common refrain is that Single Payer/Medicare For All is government-controlled health care. It isn’t, it’s government financed health care, but to their minds, any time the government pays for something, they “control” it.
So, Joe’s article today is sorely need to clear up any misconceptions.
Here it is:
It’s the worst kind of government over-reach. It’s an easy solution to a huge problem that will cost nothing. And everything in between. Between now and Election Day you are going to hear a lot about Medicare for All and … Continue reading What’s all this about Single Payer and Medicare For All?
A post on LinkedIn by Jaimy Lee, Health Care Editor at LinkedIn, reported Thursday that a pair of surveys indicated that health care is getting more expensive for many workers in the US.
Ms. Lee states that,
“Of the roughly 50% of Americans who get their health insurance from their employer, the cost of the average single premium rose 3% and the average family premium jumped 5% from 2017 to 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That means premium rate increases are rising faster than inflation, which rose 2.5% during the same period.”
In addition, the Kaiser survey reported that:
- The average annual premium last year for one person was $6,896 and $19,616 for a family in 2018. (Workers have to pay for, on average, between 18% and 29% of their premium.)
- The average deductible amount for single coverage in 2018 was $1,573. That’s similar to 2017.
And that a separate survey stated that, 45% of Americans between the ages of 19 and 64 years old were underinsured — meaning they have health insurance but their out-of-pocket costs exceed at least 10% of their household income — in 2018. [Emphasis added]
And, in a blow to those who would like to keep the current employer-based system and not move towards an improved and expanded Medicare-for-All system, a growing number of the underinsured are people who get their health benefits through their employers. That’s up 20% over the last four years. (Traditionally the underinsured are adults who buy insurance on the individual market.)
Ms. Lee closes her post on employer-based health care underinsured workers with the following from Vox:
“In a great historical irony, the evident faults of employer-sponsored insurance are helping fuel a new appetite for Medicare-for-all, a single-payer system where everybody gets health coverage from the government,” writes journalist Dylan Scott. “Shifting 160 million people from the coverage they currently get through their jobs to a new government plan is a lot of disruption — and disruption, especially in health care, has historically made a lot of Americans nervous.”
They may be nervous at first, but it would be much better to be fully insured and nervous for a short time, than to be uninsured and nervous worrying about how they will afford ever increasing costs of insurance.
Medicare-for-All is the only way to provide such piece of mind.
This is a follow-up to my previous post, Health Care Costs Rising for Workers. My post then cited a Kaiser study; this article references the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center.
On Monday, I reported that there is an effort underway to discredit the move towards single payer by various groups, and even Howard Schultz, the outgoing Chairman of Starbucks said the following back in June:
“It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left. I say to myself, ‘How are we going to pay for these things,’ in terms of things like single payer [and] people espousing the fact that the government is going to give everyone a job. I don’t think that’s something realistic. I think we got to get away from these falsehoods and start talking about the truth and not false promises.”
So, if these two studies are accurate, and there is no way to prove they aren’t, then both Mr. Schultz and the various groups attempting to derail single payer, are only going to make things worse for workers, and for everyone else.
Oh, and by the way, there have been studies that indicated that we could afford single payer health care, especially a report sponsored by a Koch Brothers backed think tank, Mercatus.
So, consider the following from this Health Leaders article back in October of this year.
The average premium for employer-sponsored plans rose $267, or 4.4% between 2016 and 2017, which is twice the increase recorded between 2015 and 2016.
The Commonwealth Fund today released a report that stated that the cost of employer-based insurance is a growing burden on middle-class families.
In 2017, more than half (56%) of people under age 65, about 152 million people, had insurance through an employer, either their own or a family member’s. In contrast, only 9 percent had a plan purchased on the individual market, including the marketplaces.
Here are the highlights from that brief:
* After climbing modestly between 2011 and 2016, average premiums for employer health plans rose sharply in 2017. Annual single-person premiums climbed above $7,000 in eight states; family premiums were $20,000 or higher in seven states and D.C.
* Rising overall employer premiums increased the amount that workers and their families contribute. Average annual premium contributions for single-person plans ranged from $675 in Hawaii to $1,747 in Massachusetts; family plans ranged from $3,646 in Michigan to $6,533 in Delaware.
* Average employee premium contributions across single and family plans amounted to 6.9 percent of U.S. median income in 2017, up from 5.1 percent in 2008. In 11 states, premium contributions were 8 percent of median income or more, with a high of 10.2 percent in Louisiana.
* The average annual deductible for single-person policies rose to $1,808 in 2017, ranging from a low of $863 in Hawaii to a high of about $2,300 in Maine and New Hampshire. Average deductibles across single and family plans amounted to 4.8 percent of median income in 2017, up from 2.7 percent in 2008. In three states (Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee), average deductibles comprised more than 6 percent of median income.
* Combined, average employee premium contributions and potential out-of-pocket spending to meet deductibles across single and family policies rose to $7,240 in 2017 and was $8,000 or more in eight states. Nationally, this potential spending amounted to 11.7 percent of median income in 2017, up from 7.8 percent a decade earlier. In Louisiana and Mississippi, these combined costs rose to 15 percent or more of median income.
Worker payments for employer coverage are growing faster than median income.
The average employee premium cost across single and family plans amounted to 6.9 percent of median income in 2017, up from 5.1 percent in 2008.
Average deductibles are also outpacing growth in median income.
In many states, even though costs are rising, people are not getting insurance that protects them more because deductibles are also increasing.
Still think that the free market works for health care? Guess again.
We are the only advanced nation that refuses to give its citizens universal health care like other similar nations do. This “growth” is unsustainable and will lead to single-payer health care.
Axios is reporting that health care costs for workers is rising while overall costs of employer-based health benefits is growing modestly from year to year.
This is slowly eating up all of the average workers wage increases, and then some, as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2018 Employer Health Benefits Survey.
The survey covers the last ten years, from 2008 to 2018. Most of where the employees are paying for health care comes from deductibles, which has seen a +212% increase over that period, and is out of pocket. These costs, the survey said, is rising faster than inflation and wages.
Premiums for families have risen over this period +55%, while workers’ earnings have risen +26%, and inflation has risen +17%.
According to Kaiser, employees are paying an average of about $1,200 per year in premiums. That’s 65% more than what they paid in 2008, for single coverage plans that cover only the worker, no family members.
Besides the increase in deductibles, the number of employees who have a deductible has gone up, and the number of employees with above-average deductibles is up as well.
- More patients are more attuned to the high costs of care.
- The underlying cost of health care services is growing relatively slowly right now, compared to historical trends.
- But there’s a sense, at least among some liberal-leaning health care experts, that employers have just about maxed out their ability to shift more costs onto employees — meaning that once price increases start to pick up steam again, businesses and workers will both feel the pain quickly.
What does this mean?
As workers’ wages are stagnant, and health care costs are rising, shifting the cost of health care onto the backs of workers is not only counterproductive to lowering the cost of health care, it puts an undue burden on those who can least afford to shell out more of their hard earned income on health care, especially when they have a serious medical issue to deal with.
Single payer will relieve the worker from having to pay out of pocket when wages are stagnant, and when wages rise again. This will enable them to have more money to spend on things that otherwise would have been prohibitive before.
To do no less is to saddle the working class with perpetual debt and decreased economic power. Not a good way to run an economy.