Posts Tagged medicare for all
Bernie Sanders popularized the idea of US national healthcare during his 2016 campaign. He described the idea as “Medicare For All”. That was a genius idea since most Americans have a family member with that program for seniors. In fact, with its 44 million participants it represents a very large, although incomplete, national healthcare program. It is very popular among seniors since it reduces insurance premiums dramatically.
There are two major versions of Medicare: Standard and Advantage.
- It sets the allowed price for hospital and medical provider services
- It pays 80% of the “allowed” price leaving 20% for the individual or a “medical supplement”.
- Limits participants to one insurance company or organization
- Has lower premiums
- Wraps Medicare and a supplement together
What about Medicare For All
- What about premiums or supplements or services? (the specifics need to be chosen, not guessed at.) It’s like a dream house, but without a drawing or a list of deliverables.
This is really the nuts and bolts of a national plan no matter what you call it. And, if the current providers sense they will make less money, the self-serving complaints will be very loud. Who will complain if patients don’t get a better deal — not very many people. That’s because not very many people understand healthcare. So, what do you as a consumer want?
☐ Same old insurance, high drug prices and poor quality
☐ Premiums paid via payroll deduction
☐ Premiums paid via annual income tax
☐ Allow supplemental insurance for non-covered items (like plastic surgery or special drugs)
☐ Profits for drug companies limited to 5%
☐ All covered medications available for $10/month
☐ All approved hospital days available for $400/day
☐ Out of pocket annual expenses limited to $5000/year
☐ Approved child medical care is free
☐ 0.5% of premiums for research
☐ Regional claim processing (by current insurance carriers, limited to 5% profit)
☐ Limited list of available medications, generics are required where available, brand name drugs are selected by the plan
☐ 30% of provider payments linked to quality and quantity measurements
☐ Medical school tuition paid in exchange for 5 years of service in designated (poorly served) areas
☐ Mental health service included same as other health care (includes PhD psychologists)
☐ Maternity care, including midwife care at home when safe
☐ Primary care provider available for all persons
☐ Physicians and surgeons are salaried (not paid by number of services)
☐ Same day service for urgent problems
☐ Clinics open nights and weekends
☐ Massive increase in numbers of physician assistants and nurse practitioners with tuition paid in exchange for service
☐ Video visits with providers via Internet if desired
☐ Hospitals paid according to diagnosis (DRGs)
☐ Regional specialty hospitals (5% for growth and development)
☐ Local general hospitals (5% for growth and development)
☐ Providers all use the same secure medical record
☐ Annual adjustment of payment levels based on a budget
☐ Ongoing and up-to-date quality measurements on all services
☐ No need for malpractice suits — immediate compensation for injuries instead
☐ Strong quality system capable of sanctioning administrators and providers (important!! may need lawyers here)
Start over. Begin again. Throw out the mess.
Usually, complicated problems are solved incrementally by finding each small problem and fixing each one until the huge problem is resolved. This approach has failed healthcare in the United States. The evidence is overwhelming.
- rising cost
- declining health
- inability to train enough workers
- high infant mortality
- inability to control drug costs
- focus on cost instead of health
- fragmented improvement efforts
THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM IS THE US DOES NOT HAVE A HEALTHCARE SYSTEM: NO SYSTEM TO CORRECT, NO SYSTEM TO MEASURE, NO GOALS TO MEET, NOBODY WHO IS ACCOUNTABLE.
The measure of a healthcare system is an average. It’s not whether one guy is cured from leukemia but whether the average baby survives, the average citizen can get a doctor appointment, can purchase medications, and can have surgery if needed.
Sadly, if you are a legislator every problem looks like a financial problem — you can pay more or pay less. You tried the first option so now you want to try the second option.
Supply and demand economics does work But, it just has to be applied the correct way. If the salary paid to a lawmaker is dependent on improving health in the country then the economic theory would work fine. It does not work fine when complicated treatments are marketed to a population with low health literacy (and that includes the President and Congress past and present).
The reason Medicare-for-all seems so appealing is because it is a system. Perhaps it’s not as good as the systems in other countries, but it’s the system we know. It’s time to stop complaining about cost and complexity. DO SOMETHING and KEEP IT SIMPLE.