Letters to the Editor

Coverage cost

February 24, 2011


To the editor:

There are two sides to President Obama’s health care “reform.” Many say that it is beneficial to our country, yet there are countless facts that say otherwise. I believe the main cause of our nation’s health care problem is the government’s interference.

Think about it this way: Obama’s health care project will require you to spend 12 percent of your income to buy your health care coverage. This goes without any federal subsidy. Although this percent varies depending on your income, you are still losing a significant amount of money each year.


jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

I'd be interested in where the 12% of income figure comes from.

And, last time I checked, one could not buy insurance and pay something like a $75 fine instead.

It's an overly long and complex bill, and so most of the oversimplified bits and pieces that are thrown around aren't very complete.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

And if you have ever had a major injury or illness without insurance (as I had) it could take you decades to pay off (as mine did). I kind of doubt the 12% above, but considering, it wouldn't seem so bad.

Brian Laird 7 years, 1 month ago

Given that health care is 17% of GDP, spending 12% of income seems like a deal.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Even if the figure is correct (which I doubt, and there's no source for it), it would only be the amount spent on insurance, and thus not include co-payments, deductibles, and co-insurance, as I read the letter.

voevoda 7 years, 1 month ago

I realize that for individuals (and families) living paycheck to paycheck, the idea of having an additional expense is daunting. That might be why they haven't bought health insurance already, on their own.
The new law includes provisions for those citizens whose taxable income is insufficient to afford health insurance to purchase it at a reduced rate, on a sliding scale. That will separate those people who really can't afford health insurance from those who could afford to buy it, but instead go without in order to spend the money on luxuries and foist the costs of the health care they end up needing off on the public.
Originally, President Obama's plan included low-cost public insurance, especially for people in your situation, Mr. Williams. But by falsely claiming that such a "public option" constituted "socialism" and would involve setting up "death panels," the right-wing propaganda machine scared Congress out of including it. So the health care reform as it was enacted doesn't do enough for ordinary, modestly-compensated working folk, because priority had to be given to preserving the stranglehold the for-profit insurance industry has over the health-care sector of the economy.
The most affordable means of providing health care to every citizen would be to establish a Canadian or French style system. Americans would pay a little more in taxes--there, too, on a sliding scale, so modest wage-earners wouldn't be much affected--but they would not have to pay for health insurance or health care any more. Does that sound good to you, Mr. Williams? It sounds good to me.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Getting More for Less

The U.S. health insurance system is typically characterized as a largely private-sector system, so it may come as a surprise that more than 60% of the $2 trillion annual U.S. health care bill is paid through taxes, according to a 2002 analysis published in Health Affairs by Harvard Medical School associate professors Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein.

Tax dollars pay for Medicare and Medicaid, for the Veterans Administration and the Indian Health Service. Tax dollars pay for health coverage for federal, state, and municipal government employees and their families, as well as for many employees of private companies working on government contracts.

Less visible but no less important, the tax deduction for employer-paid health insurance, along with other health care-related tax deductions, also represents a form of government spending on health care.

It makes little difference whether the government gives taxpayers (or their employers) a deduction for their health care spending, on the one hand, or collects their taxes then pays for their health care, either directly or via a voucher, on the other.

Moreover, tax dollars also pay for critical elements of the health care system apart from direct care—Medicare funds much of the expensive equipment hospitals use, for instance, along with all medical residencies.

All told, then, tax dollars already pay for at least $1.2 trillion in annual U.S. health care expenses. Since federal, state, and local governments collected approximately $3.5 trillion in taxes of all kinds—income, sales, property, corporate—in 2006, that means that more than one third of the aggregate tax revenues collected in the United States that year went to pay for health care.

Recognizing these hidden costs that U.S. households pay for health care today makes it far easier to see how a universal single-payer system—with all of its obvious advantages—can cost most Americans less than the one we have today.

Medicare must exist in the fragmented world that is American health care—but no matter how creative the opponents of single-payer get, there is no way they can show convincingly how the administrative costs of a single-payer system could come close to the current level.

More on this matter: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Consumers got ripped off big time by the medical insurance industry. This was done without the knowledge of the government. So it seems to me the privatized medical insurance industry is the problem.

Call in the FBI and the Grand Jury!!!

Insurance CEO's and lobbyists are advisors to our elected officials which is a conflict of interest.

Has anyone received notice of a class action lawsuit?

Is there an FBI investigation under way? A Grand Jury investigation underway?

Why you ask?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.

At a committee hearing yesterday, three health-care specialists testified that insurers go to great lengths to avoid responsibility for sick people, use deliberately incomprehensible documents to mislead consumers about their benefits, and sell "junk" policies that do not cover needed care. Rockefeller said he was exploring "why consumers get such a raw deal from their insurance companies."

The star witness at the hearing was a former public relations executive for major health insurers whose testimony boiled down to this: Don't trust the insurers.

"The industry and its backers are using fear tactics, as they did in 1994, to tar a transparent and accountable -- publicly accountable -- health-care option," said Wendell Potter, who until early last year was vice president for corporate communications at the big insurer Cigna.

Potter said he worries "that the industry's charm offensive, which is the most visible part of duplicitous and well-financed PR and lobbying campaigns, may well shape reform in a way that benefits Wall Street far more than average Americans."

Insurers make paperwork confusing because "they realize that people will just simply give up and not pursue it" if they think they have been shortchanged, Potter said.

More on this story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062401636

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