Monday, May 01, 2006

Single payer health care

It can work: a government regulated system of health care for all.
The medical cost ratio is the percentage of insurance premiums paid out to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. Investors are upset about Aetna's rising ratio, because it leaves less room for profit. But even after the rise in the cost ratio, Aetna spends less than 80 cents of each dollar in health insurance premiums on actually providing medical care. The other 20 cents go into profits, marketing and administrative expenses.

Other private insurers have similar ratios. And here's the thing: most of those 20 cents spent on things other than medical care are unnecessary. Older Americans are covered by Medicare, which doesn't spend large sums on marketing and doesn't devote a lot of resources to screening out people likely to have high medical bills. As a result, Medicare manages to spend about 98 percent of its funds on actual medical care.

Many are opposed to the government getting involved in health care. But with an innovative plan we can reduce the waste and dedicate more $$$ to actual care as opposed to advertising and administrative overhead (identifying those "undesirables" from an insurance perspective)

A single payer system puts everyone in the same pool -- to share expenses. Isn't that what insurance is supposed to be about? Now, we have companies who compete not to provide you the best service, but compete to weed out folks likely to use a lot of services.

Again, market-place competition isn't the cure-all for social issues.


jj said...

You are right on target. We pay more than three times what any other industrialized country pays for medical care per person yet we have a higher infant mortality rate than even Cuba. Yes CUBA. Also there are 47 countries that have a higher life expectancy than the U.S. so where is the money going. Remember the day when the right justified the high costs by saying we have the best health care in the world? We are not even in the top ten. However we pay much much more. Your medical dollars are going to insurance company bureaucrats and lawyers whose sole job is to find ways to cut treatment to increase profit.

Reign of Reason said...

JJ - exactly.

The market is a wonderful for brining the populace cheap computers and other 'widgets'. But when you're talking about things like health care, disaster preparedness, etc. government has to take the lead.

That's what its about: looking out for society's interests.

jj said...

Right, I think we have reached a point that society's interest would be better served by a universal health care like every other industrialized country. We are the leader in so many area's yet in health care we are way behind.

There's no perfect solution but it is obvious we are heading for a train wreck (one of many) with health care costs making routine care something only the wealthy can afford. When you are paying more per month for health insurance than for a mortgage something is wrong. I guess health care should not be a for profit enterprise at this point in our society.

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