Letters to the Editor

Letter: Universal care

July 29, 2014


To the editor:

July 30 will be the 49th anniversary of the Medicare Act of 1965. Why can’t we have a system that provides everyone with guaranteed medical care from birth to death? All the other developed countries cover everybody, pay half as much for their health care as we do and provide better outcomes.

America is the only developed country allowing the health care system to be run by private corporations that have transformed medical care into a commodity to be bought and sold. Let us demand from our government a more just solution. Too many Americans face loss of insurance as well as bankruptcy due to medical emergencies.


RJ Johnson 3 years, 7 months ago

Who's going to pay for it? Do you not want the most advanced health care in the world??? Nothing is free!

MerriAnnie Smith 3 years, 7 months ago

The same people who're paying for it, now... only the system we now have is flawed and lets millions of lower middle-class people fall through the cracks.

The idea that one governor can refuse medical care to thousands of people in his state is egregious.

But WE pay for poor people to have medical care now. We would continue to do that if we had universal insurance. Costs would be much more contained, as they are with Medicare (which individuals do pay for). If we could contain costs for everyone in a universal program it would not significantly, if at all, increase our taxes. But if it did increase them it would not be egregious to the ordinary citizen because outrageous prices for doctors' visits would have to come down from $256 (my last doctor's visit) to more like $50 a visit.

Note that if you and your employer are now paying for your health insurance, in a universal system, the increase in taxes for you likely would not even match what you're paying now to large health insurance companies whose bottom line is huge profits.

Sam Crow 3 years, 7 months ago

Of the 154 health plans in the United States with at least 100,000 enrollees, 97 (or 63%) are nonprofit, 41 are for-profit (27%), and 16 (10%) are government. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, which is non profit, is the largest insurer in the state. It is the 39th largest insurer in the country.

Don Brennaman 3 years, 7 months ago

How do lesser "advanced" societies pay for it? Everyone pays for it. Universal health is a necessity not a commodity.

Mike Ford 3 years, 7 months ago

since I've paid for my ACA insurance now for seven months and I paid for previous health insurance on my own from 1998 to 2011 I'd like to call balderdash on the repeated right wing zombie lie about free stuff repeated daily by Rush Pillbaugh. Now that the nonsense has been called out will you stop with it already?

Lawrence Guy 3 years, 7 months ago

Jean - if you want to have a nice car or a great evening out, what do you have to do? Pay for it. I hope you do not go to your neighbors and tell them about your desire for a new car and demand they pay for it, on threat of jail if they don't. It is no different with health care. Somebody has to pay. I suggest that it should be the person who receives the benefits of the said care, in the same way that society expects diners at a restaurant to pay their bill. You may be dealt a bad hand, in the same way a family whose home is blown away by a tornado is - just shear bad luck. But that is what we have insurance for. Pay what you can out of pocket and pay insurance for the rest.

Ah, but what about people who want to sit at home all day and not work, you ask? Society must incentivise work, otherwise a large portion of folks will sit at home and do nothing relying on their neighbors to pay their bills for them. Eventually no-one will want to work and society will cease to function.

As for better outcomes with socialized medicine, study after study have debunked that myth. In england you have to wait up to 16 weeks to see a doctor - not so good if you are having a heart attack! The main reason they have better outcomes is actually a result of their poorly performing economies. Folks in these countries cannot afford the luxuries that we can here; they have to walk more since they cannot afford automobiles, they eat a lower calorie diet because they cannot afford the high energy diets we crave. Health improves in times of austerity - it's been known since the last war, but the socialized medicine folks will never tell you that.

David Shobe 3 years, 7 months ago

This is not a good analogy for two reasons. First, health care is a necessity, not a luxury like a nice car or an evening out. Second, your neighbor is getting the exact same coverage: it's not like you're getting something he's not.

Sam Crow 3 years, 7 months ago

“…the health care system to be run by private corporations…”

The author of the letter must not be aware that Medicare is actually run by corporations. Medicare simply reimburses those corporations, known as MACs, that are contracted to administer the program.

In this region of the country, that corporation is Wisconsin Physician Services Insurance Company, Incorporated. It is a not for profit entity, same as BCBS of Kansas. But its subsidiary EPIC Life Insurance provides ancillary product including life, disability, dental, and vision plans, while WPS Bank offers banking and finance services in Wisconsin.

If you lived in Colorado the corporation would be Novitas Solutions Inc, a division of Diversified Service Options, Inc., which is a subsidiary of First Coast Service Options Inc, and BCBS of Florida.

For those living in Utah it is Noridian Solutions, Inc, a subsidiary of Noridian Insurance Company, Inc.

The notion that Medicare is not run by corporations is a fallacy, yet many people hold Medicare up as the ideal health care system. The only major health care system truly directly financed and run by the government health care is the Veterans Administration. But wait..........

Clark Coan 3 years, 7 months ago

Access to health care is a basic human right because you can die if you don't have access to health care. The Expanded, Improved Medicare for All Act (HR 676) has been introduced in Congress, but will go nowhere for another 50 years. It would fix Medicare and expand it to include everyone. I can see phasing it in to cover those 55-64 and under 18 first and then eventually everyone else. The research shows that Medicare is far more efficient than private insurance. Funding can come from removing the Medicare tax exemption for those making over $117,000 and increasing the excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco and marijuana (where legal).

Sam Crow 3 years, 7 months ago

There is no wage base limit for Medicare tax. All covered wages are subject to Medicare tax.

Beginning January 1, 2013, Additional Medicare Tax applies to an individual’s Medicare wages that exceed a threshold amount based on the taxpayer’s filing status. Employers are responsible for withholding the 0.9% Additional Medicare Tax on an individual’s wages paid in excess of $200,000 in a calendar year, without regard to filing status. 

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

Jean Drumm has done a lot of homework on this issue. Jean is also right on the money.

Single Payer Highlights:

  • Easy to Implement: Medicare has been in existence since 1966, it provides healthcare to those 65 and older, and satisfaction levels are high. The structure is already in place and can be easily expanded to cover everyone.

  • Simple: One entity – established by the government – would handle billing and payment at a cost significantly lower than private insurance companies. Private insurance companies spend about 31% of every healthcare dollar on administration. Medicare now spends about 3%.

  • Real Choice: An expanded and improved Medicare for All would provide personal choice of doctors and other healthcare providers. While financing would be public, providers would remain private. As with Medicare, you choose your doctor, your hospital, and other healthcare providers.

  • State and Local Tax Relief: Medicare for All would assume the costs of healthcare delivery, thus relieving the states and local governments of the cost of healthcare, including Medicaid, and as a result reduce State and local tax burdens.

  • Expanded coverage: Would cover all medically necessary healthcare services – no more rationing by private insurance companies. There would be no limits on coverage, no co-pays or deductibles, and services would include not only primary and specialized care but also prescription drugs, dental, vision, mental health services, and long-term care.

  • Everyone In, Nobody Out: Everyone would be eligible and covered. No longer would doctors ask what insurance you have before they treat you.

  • No More Overpriced Private Health Insurance: Medicare for All would eliminate the need for private health insurance companies who put profit before healthcare, unfairly limit choice, restrict who gets coverage, and force people into bankruptcy.

  • Lower Costs: Most people will pay significantly less for healthcare. Savings will be achieved in reduced administrative costs and in negotiated prices for prescription drugs.

Single-Payer (HR 676 and S 703) Expanded Medicare for All Vs. Medical Insurance Industry http://www.healthcare-now.org/docs/spreport.pdf ( very interesting findings)

http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single-payer-resources Physicians for a National Health Program


Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

What would be so wrong with excellent 24/7 coverage for a whole lot less money? Yes I absolutely believe Medicare Single Payer Insurance should be among the choices open to all no matter what.

Those who see it as their duty to pay a lot more should have that opportunity for the rest of their lives. No matter that zillions of health care dollars are recklessly spent on political campaigns,lobbyists,shareholders,CEO's and CEO golden parachutes. 8 lobbyists per elected official = quite a bundle of reckless spending.

Raymond Muñoz 3 years, 7 months ago

The VA fiasco on a massive scale is what would happen if we had a government created solution to health care.

Mike Ford 3 years, 7 months ago

Guess what amnesiacs......which political party always cuts and denies funding for government...why the gop of course.....and what do the gop and libertarian amnesiacs do? blame the administration that inherited this ticking time bomb that's been waiting for a couple of decades to go off....my parent was a chaplain at the Topeka VA in the early 1990's and saw this funding situation during the Father Bush era. Maybe if the low information voters of this country didn't put a puppet in office who fought two unnecessary wars with volunteer guard armies and wmd's never found between 2000 and 2008 we'd never been in a VA mess to begin with.

Sam Crow 3 years, 7 months ago

Though this thread is about Medicare........the democrats controlled both the Senate and the House the eight years between 1987 and 1995. That covers the funding situation in both the "Father Bush" era and your parent at the Topeka VA. Spending bills originate in the house.

Susan Mangan 3 years, 7 months ago

Good for your parent, honey. But I grew up in the military, and the VA situation has been a running joke among veterans for well over 40 years, now. It's easy to try to pin it to the 90's, but you're about 20 years too late, there, sweetheart. Good try, though!

John Graham 3 years, 7 months ago

While I admit there are many problems with the current system of US healthcare, I do not believe VA style healthcare for everyone would be any improvement. Nor do I believe most US citizens would accept the restrictions on diagnostic testing and treatments that exist within the VA system.

While our current system is far from perfect, universal healthcare is not either. The supporters of universal healthcare ignore the facts of longer wait times to see a physician. They also ignore tighter restrictions on use of diagnostic testing. As well as once diagnosed, increased restrictions on treatment options and increased wait times for those treatments that are allowed. In at least some countries with universal healthcare, there are age restrictions on some treatments offered due to cost effectiveness of treatment verses life expectancy. In short beyond a certain age some treatments are not offered due to cost. Dialysis is one such example. Beyond a certain age dialysis isn't carried out due to cost. Thus the patient dies of renal failure in a few days. That same patient is the US is provided dialysis which can extend their life for weeks/months/even years. The trade off is it is expensive. So is providing an expensive treatment on a 75 year old good use of healthcare dollars? That is a question that is answered quite differently in our system verses some countries with universal healthcare. Yes universal healthcare provides coverage for all but it comes with its own price that US citizens will have to except.

There strengths and weaknesses of our system and of universal healthcare. It's deciding which weaknesses that we are willing to accept as a nation not that any one system is perfect compared to the other. In closing the VA problem in the news is far from the only issue that plagues the VA system, which is universal healthcare for our veterans. I doubt most of us would be happy to receive the care that is currently offered in such a system even if it is provided to all.

Mike Ford 3 years, 7 months ago

you all have very old dead horses that you ride all the time. you all are stuck in the pre civil rights mayberry era so don't talk to me about dead horses.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

"The VA fiasco on a massive scale is what would happen if we had a government created solution to health care." == NOT TRUE

The VA is government health care Medicare is not. Medicare is among the most successful programs ever which is why private industry wants to steal it and those trillion of tax dollars that come attached = easy easy profit and reckless use of tax dollars.

Care for medicare clients is performed by the private health care industry NOT the government.

Derek Eastland 3 years, 7 months ago

You claim Medicare is not government health care. If that's so, then who is the private industry trying to steal it from? Themselves?

John Graham 3 years, 7 months ago

The government (not private industry) sets the policies, procedures and pay rates for Medicare services. The government (not private industry) decides which diagnostics, medications, treatments and procedures will be authorized and which will not. That in my opinion makes Medicare government run even if they have a third party administrator run the day to day operations.

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