Monday, June 29, 2009

Re: OP-ED: The non-competition health plan | Dr. Stark

Doctor Stark,

I'd like to make a few comments about your opinion piece.

You said: "118 million will be forced to join after opting out or losing their private coverage." I don't understand something about this. If people's health insurance is so good, why would people choose to switch over to the public option? I'm an advocate for Single Payer, and I believe that the reason is because private businesses who are tired of competing with companies in other industrialized countries who don't have to pay for their employees health care would decide to stop providing that benefit altogether. So people wouldn't have a "choice". They would be pushed, by their current employers' decisions, to move to the public option.

You also said: "Medicare was passed in 1965, and by 1970, no private market existed, except for co-pays and deductibles, for the elderly in the United States." This is not true. Plenty of private health insurance exists for people over the age of 65. If people want to pay the premiums, health care insurance companies would be more than welcome to provide them with coverage. Nobody can afford it, but that's not the issue. They would exist if there was a market for it. And the only reason why there is not a market is because private insurance cannot compete with Medicare on a level playing field. People can complain all they want about how bad the coverage is, but the fact remains true that those complaints have not created a way for private health insurance to compete with the Medicare system. And if there are problems with Medicare, we know what to do about it. Get our representatives to fix it, or vote them out of office. Have you been able to successfully lobby the Board of Directors of Blue Cross?

Personally, I believe that a Public Option or Single Payer is something we cannot afford NOT to do. You're right about the unfunded liabilities in the Medicare system. Estimates I have seen say that at the peak of the Baby Boomer retirement in the 2020's, the system will have $77 Trillion Dollars to deal with. I'm not going to deny that. But I just don't believe that private health insurance, which has a mandate to make profits instead of providing care to people, would be able to handle that load any better than any other system, and with enough pressure brought to bear by the people depending on the system for their very lives, a publicly funded system might even be persuaded to do it better and cheaper.

I've seen the estimates that say Medicare only reimburses 70-80 percent of the private rates. And I agree that's a problem. So let's increase that to Market Rate and see how many doctors suddenly decide that it's worth accepting Medicare patients again.

I don't think Canada should be the only foreign system that we look at. Have you looked at the French system? There is a vibrant and healthy private, non-profit, health insurance sector built on top of the national insurance available to everyone. 85% of the people of France are covered by both, and they are very happy with it. We could do that. We could do even better, I'm sure.

Let's put market competition at work providing health care services instead of paying health care CEO's and stockholders, and we'll see a healthier America and a brighter future.

Chad Lupkes
Seattle

1 comment:

RdThompson said...

Such a complex web weaved by so many spiders!