The Medical Cost Horror That Haunts Us

Free Medicare for everyone, free college for everyone, and everyone being freed from existing college loans did in Bernie Sanders. Americans are ripe for some change toward a more socialistic system, but they don’t want a revolution. They want slow and carefully.

Medicare already is 15% of the federal budget. A “For All” program would surely require a significant increase in income tax rates. Even more if Medicaid is expanded to cover ever more poor citizens and the elderly needing care home habitation or at-home nursing.

Probably the most attractive piece of socialism for a large lump of progressive voters is a better healthcare system than even our Obamacare. People wonder why so many other countries have lower costs for procedures and medicines.

They also fear that Medicare For All would create long wait times for many surgeries — something our neighbors in Canada know only too well.

Today I’d like to offer you what I thing to be the best healthcare-insurance systems for America.

I favor Switzerland’s system as #1 and Germany’s as #2. [See below for their plans.] For us, I’m tossing in some private insurance choice. And I’d put all people with existing health issues in a separate insurance pool with subsidies and lump the young and healthy into a lower-payment pool.

My favored system is Medicare For All, with the option for payers into that program to also have private insurance and providers at the citizen’s own expense if wanted. We’d all pay into this expanded Medicare program based on income, but if you don’t want to use it — go ahead and also pay Aetna, Blue Cross, Humana, Kaiser or whomever stays in the private health insurance business. You also can use whatever doctors stay out of Medicare For All.

But you will pay into the national program, and that means at least as long as you are an income earner from any source, including investments, Social Security and pensions. The toughest issues will be how much to pay health care providers and how much to subsidize people’s health care costs. 

Yes, many insurance companies will be put out of business and many thousands of their employees will be out of jobs. Some doctors will drop out of government-managed care but where can they go that doesn’t have it?

I mentioned favoring Switzerland and Germany. Why?

Almost 90 percent of Germans use the national coverage system. The rest opt for private insurance. Premiums for the national system are based on income and paid for by employers and employees, with subsidies available but capped at earnings of about $65,000. Co-pays are very low. They’re capped for low-income people and non-existent for services to children. No subsidies for private health insurance, but the government regulates those premiums.

Switzerland, my #1, has universal health care that requires everyone to buy into that insurance. Almost 30 percent of people get subsidies offsetting the cost of premiums that are based on income. Private insurers are allowed to offer for-profit coverage on a for-profit basis, with varying benefits and premiums. Most doctors work on a fee-for-service scale, and patients have their choice of doctors, unless they’ve selected a managed-care plan.

I like that Swiss plan as basically a better-designed version of our ObamaCare. It allows total — but regulated — competition among insurers and includes an individual mandate to have some form of health insurance.

My #1 concern is my $5,000+ a year for my essential medicines and paying $3,000 for a simple esophagus examination.

But I’m not ready to move to Switzerland or Germany until global warming does away with their bitter winters.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

3 replies on “The Medical Cost Horror That Haunts Us”

  1. Not to mention global warming/rising sea levels that wash the Pacific into your Black Point digs.

  2. Slow recovery is the attack on this virus and the economy. It will take three years to recover on mainland and Europe. Ten for Hawaii if left to current procedure. That said you need to look at tourism base not being able to grow enough to pay for capital cost or wages for half the hotels. To raise taxes on land will kill the value of all property and business.
    What is needed is a new way to plan recovery as in safe air transportation to and from the state. Then get revenues up in certain developments that can have the solutions for better draw not just expensive rooms. Budget accommodations and home rentals for instance. Those present restrictions must be lifted and attract visitors and then people can pay for private health insurance

    Not a socialist one payer ( for all) way to destroy the system that is stressed by low doctors income now. Capitalism works. Competition to other tourist destinations in an industry depression. Yes tourism depression. Fear and lack of big spending ability.

    The bigger plan for both jobs and tax revenues to reduce the burden on workers income and cost of living would take from the largest tourist destination. Las Vegas the “ninth Island”.
    Yes gambling and entertainment the size of Waikiki off beach big areas for redevelopment and conversion.

    That also brings in new capital and recreation. Have the boom pay for capital public expansion. The stadium the new city center and infrastructure.
    The city will still want rail and the state to pay for it.
    Otherwise bankruptcy is the alternative with yes more socialism.

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