The health care debates have been thick on fiction and thin on facts. Below are some of the facts & figures and information originating from credible sources in health care reform — hailing from Capitol Hill, to the health care industry, to health care advocates, to the offices of insurance industry executives.
Option #1: THE SINGLE PAYER PLAN
(aka: H.R. 676; the United States National Health Insurance Act (or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act), universal health care; the Conyers Bill; not-for-profit health care. The for-profit insurance industry calls this plan “government-run” or “socialized” medicine).
The average American knows relatively little, if any, about true universal health care (H.R. 676), despite that this bill was introduced in the House in 2007 (by Rep. John Conyers) and currently has 93 co-sponsors in the House. While the supporters of H.R. 676 have worked hard to educate the public on the benefits of a universal, single-payer health care plan, they lack the lobbying clout and the 1.5 million dollar-per-day budget that the private, for-profit insurance industry spends to wage a PR campaign extolling — not the virtues of their industry but, rather, the evils of health care reform, their tazers pointed directly at both the single-payer plan (H.R. 676)and the public option plan (H.R. 3200).
Here are a few numbers on the cost of the single-payer plan (HR 676) from the website of the Rep. John Conyers, the sponsor of the bill:
- BOTH FAMILIES and BUSINESS WILL PAY LESS: The private, for-profit insurance industry currently charges employers approx. $12,000 per year for a family of four. Of this, the employer pays 74%, which leaves the employee to pay the balance of just over $4,000 per year. Under H.R. 676, the employer and the employee would each pay approx. $2,700 per year to cover a family of 4 with a median income of $56,200 per year.
- THE NATION WILL PAY ABOUT THE SAME, WHILE COVERING ALL AMERICANS: Savings from reduced administration, bulk purchasing, and coordination among providers will allow coverage for all Americans while reducing health care inflation in the long term. Annual savings from enacting H.R. 676 are estimated at $387 billion.
This bill can be read in entirety here, at the Thomas Library of Congress pages. Below are some of the virtues of the H.R. 676, single-payer plan, which would be common knowledge among Americans, had the topic of single-payer health care not been barred from taking a seat at Obama’s big table:
- Every resident of the US will be covered from birth to death.
- No more pre-existing conditions to be excluded from coverage.
- No more expensive deductibles or co-pays.
- All prescription medications will be covered.
- All dental and eye care will be included.
- Mental health and substance abuse care will be fully covered.(1)
- Long term and nursing home services will be included.
- You will always choose your own doctors and hospitals.
- Costs of coverage will be assessed on a sliding scale basis.
- Tremendously simplified system of medical administration
- Total portability – your coverage not tied to any job or location.
- Existing Medicare benefits for those over 65 will remain the same or be vastly improved in many cases.
- No corporate bureaucrat will ever come between you and your doctor to deny your care
Paul Krugman: Death by Insurance ( May 1, 2006)
Reader’s comments to the above article: Medicare for All: More Than a Band-Aid
Paul Krugman: Health Care Realities (August 1, 2009) At a recent town hall meeting, a man stood up and told Rep. Bob Inglis to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” The congressman, a Republican from South Carolina, tried to explain that Medicare is already a government program — but the voter, Rep. Inglis said, “wasn’t having any of it.
1-minute speech by Dennis Kucinich with facts & figures on the number of uninsured & under-insured Americans, plus bankruptcies due to medical expenses.
The chart, below, prepared by the League of Women Voters of Arizona, offers a comparison of the single-payer plan (HR676) vs. the public option (HR 3200).
Option #2: THE PUBLIC OPTION
(aka: HR 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, “Obama care,” “government-run” health care, “socialism”)
While this bill is commonly called “Obama care,” HR 3200 is not an Obama invention, but was sponsored by several Democrats in Congress. It would cover most, but not all Americans. It does not cover illegal immigrants. The plan would begin, if at all, in the year 2013. The provisions of HR 3200 are difficult to pin down. One of the better explanations I’ve found of this bill’s provisions is at the News Junkie Post, in their piece titled, “What’s In This Healthcare Bill Anyway?” from which I drew the following birds-eye view of this 1000-page bill:
Everyone would be required to carry health care insurance (see options below).
Businesses with payrolls over $250,000 would be required to provide insurance to their employees, or face a tax penalty
Existing employer-based insurance would be grandfathered into the new system, but be required to meet federal requirements
A hardship provision (state-run Medicaid*) would available to those who qualify, based on income (133% of the poverty rate, or under $14,400 for an individual), and who don’t receive employer-health care
Those who don’t qualify for Medicaid would be required to purchase insurance from a pool of providers regulated by a Health Insurance Exchange, that would include private insurers and, possibly, a government-run program, such as Medicare,*which would, in theory, compete with private insurance companies and, in doing so, help lower costs.
People who are not insured will face tax penalties.
Insurance compannies could no longer deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions
*The inclusion of a “public option,” which includes hardship provisions, such as Medicare/Medicaid, for people who cannot afford private insurance appears to be off the table, as yet one more compromise to the insurance/pharmaceutical industries and the ongoing fallacy of bipartisanship.
For some excellent info, in plain language, on the particulars of this bill, be sure to follow the link above.
Here is another piece, from the June 7, 2009 Billings (Montana) Gazette, titled, ‘Public Option’ Insurance Plan Stirs Debate. This article is likely dated, due to the ongoing behind-the-scenes ‘compromises; being made to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Option #3: Keeping the Status Quo
(aka: private insurance, the for-profit insurance industry)
According to a study released in the August 2009 American Journal of Medicine, 8% of bankruptcies in 1981 were due to medical bills. This number jumped considerably in twenty years, to over 46% in 2001. Six years later, in 2007, the number had grown even higher — to just over 62% of bankruptcy filings due to medical bills.
This means that, of the 1.5 million Americans filing bankruptcy this year, a projected, 930,000 will be due to medical bills. Of these, three-quarters had health insurance. In other words, almost 700,000 American citizens with private health care insurance will file bankruptcy this year, due to medical bills. These figures do not take into account the numbers of Americans teetering on the edge, in a chronic, hardscrabble struggle to keep from going under.
VIDEO: Bill Moyers interview with former Cigna insurance executive, Wendell Potter. This informative and, at times sobering interview offers an insider’s view into the insurance industry – from their ties to Washington and Wall Street, to their their strategies to maximize profit by denying care, to their fight against health care reform. (37 minutes, well worth the time)