Class Warfare Blog

August 2, 2017

Medicare for All: Let the Hand Wringing Begin

Filed under: Morality,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:34 pm
Tags: , ,

Now that a “Medicare for All (MFA)” movement is gaining steam, it seems a day can’t go by without a great deal of angst being proffered by various and sundry columnists. I think this attitude is professional in nature as a “happy days are here again” attitude doesn’t sell papers, as they say.

There are all kinds of “problems” with MFA that are brought up. How will we pay for it? What happens to the insurance companies? How will businesses now providing health insurance cope with the issues?

I am reminded of a story of a very good friend of mine who remembered setting the dinner table with his young daughter one time and started mumbling to himself “wine, wine, wine,…” as he contemplated what bottle to open and his daughter burst out in tears saying “I can’t help it….” Like that young lady, these columnists can’t help but whine.

Yes, there will be massive institutional problems involved … so what?

Consider: How to pay for it? Currently most Americans receive health insurance as a fringe benefit through their work. Instead of that money going to health insurance companies directly from their employers, those funds will have to be paid to the employees. With those funds, they will be able to pay the taxes necessary to pay for the MFA plan. Those taxes will not be anywhere near as large as the cost of that private plan. For one reason, the Medicare folks have about a 3% overhead and 0% profits while the private insurers overhead and profit taking are closer to 20%. Also, if you haven’t noticed, Medicare doesn’t pay 100% of all medical expenses, it pays about 80% (at least on paper—my co-pays have been almost zero as most practitioners accept my Medicare payment as payment in full).

The rest of the money employees receive in lieu of employer provided health insurance will go to a supplemental policy to add to the basic coverage provided by Medicare. I hope that the government will make an adjustment to our income taxes and not confiscate a substantial portion of the “new income” that the direct payment to employees constitutes and allow us to deduct all taxes and payments for medical treatments, insurances, etc. I also hope that MFA continues to be basic and not get blown up into some “Cadillac version” by pandering politicians. Possibly the system could be run by a nonpartisan commission, much as many public pension system are.

The insurance companies will be very busy providing supplemental policies from minimal to lavish in scope, I am sure. Their profit margins will go up because they will not be spending so very much money researching the best ways to get away with denying honest claims.

So, will there be transition problems if we opt for MFA? Yes, of course. Only an idiot would think otherwise. Are those problems so daunting to have us consider not going down that road? Only an idiot would think that. The founders of this country basically created a representative democracy from scratch. Creating a modern health security system should be a much lesser task and is quite worth doing. Will the rich still have it better than the poor? Are you fucking crazy? Of course they will. They will spend quite a bit of money to guarantee that whatever the best care is, they will get it. (Their Medicare Plus plans will be Medicare Plus Plus (Platinum), I am sure.) The poor will have to settle for pretty damned good care, which is far, far better than they have ever had.

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