Is Our Health Care System Sick?
We were looking through client files recently and came across one of our old newsletters from the winter of 2008. The title of the lead article was, “Is Our Health Care System Sick?” As we re-read that article, it became apparent that little has changed in our health care system over the past ten years. Much of what was true then is still just as true today.
Here are some excerpts from that article:
“Every day I encounter problems with our present system—people who can’t afford rising premiums and must choose to cut back on benefits; folks who are declined due to health problems; claims denied or processed incorrectly.”
“I also see and hear clients who have received nearly miraculous care from our doctors and hospitals… People with chronic and debilitating disease take medications that allow them to live symptom-free. Too often, though, I see that these outcomes are reserved for those who are either rich or who have great health insurance.”
“There are three tenets of any health care system—quality, cost, and access. In medical economics, we are told that we can have any two. If you want high quality and low cost, you have to limit access. If you want low cost and access for all, you have to sacrifice quality. And if you want both high quality and unlimited access, you have to be willing to pay for it. We as voters, and those we elect, will be struggling with these issues for years to come.”
Past & Present Problems with Our Health Care System
From our point of view, there were a number of problems with our health care system in 2008, such as:
- People without health insurance don’t get the care they need.
- Private health insurance is too expensive for many families to afford.
- People with health problems find it difficult to get private health insurance.
- An aging population and new technology make health care costs increasingly expensive.
- Medical errors and defensive medicine add to health care costs.
- Personal habits of Americans (obesity, smoking, drinking, sedentary lifestyle, etc.) account for 50-70% of health care costs.
Unfortunately, these are all still problems today in 2018.
Solution for a Better Health Care System
Many proposals for health care reform have been offered over the years. What we wonder, though, is why we don’t build on the basics we already have—such as Medicare, for example—which has been working well for our seniors for over 50 years?
From the perspective of over 40 years of experience in the health insurance industry, it seems that the following steps would truly create a better health care system:
- Decrease the age for Medicare from age 65 to 60, and perhaps further if successful.
- Provide Medicare to all disabled Americans, without having to wait for two years of long-term disability.
- Insure all children whose families make up to 400% of the federal poverty level.
- Subsidize COBRA premiums for those not working.
- Expand Medi-Cal to those of low income regardless of age.
- Further subsidize the Major Risk Program for those who cannot qualify for private insurance because of their health history.
If put into action, these steps would tremendously help people who cannot access care now because of low income, poor health, or both.
The Future of Health Care
Ten years after this article, we believe our proposal is still a good one. While Obamacare has reduced the number of people without insurance, it has done so at great cost. The savings which could have been achieved by having more people insured have not materialized, and because many Medi-Cal providers refuse to accept patients with Medi-Cal or Obamacare health plans, access to care has been limited.
By expanding Medicare a little at a time, we could make real inroads to reducing the ranks of the uninsured and the under-insured.
Unsure about the future of your health care? We’re here to help!
With over 40 years’ experience, Susan Polk Insurance is here to help. We’ve been providing San Luis Obispo with expert health insurance service since 1988. Contact us today and schedule a FREE consultation.