The current bill for American health care is said to be over $2 trillion. It is projected to be over $4 trillion in another decade.
At present, over 47 million people in this country are without health insurance, primarily because of the high cost. Our hospitals now resemble five-star hotels.
The administrator of a Milwaukee hospital received a salary of over $4 million in 2005. Other administrators are also very well-paid.
A one-night stay in a hospital for "observation" will produce a bill of over $950. Physicians in the surgical, radiology, and oncology specialties become multimillionaires within a few years of entering practice.
Is it any wonder why health insurance premiums are skyrocketing annually? Analysis of the above indicates that part of the problem is the matter of greed. The plan being proposed considers the greed factor among others.
Universal health care plans now being discussed all revolve around its financing; i.e., taxes, how much and who pays. When one considers that we already have a government-organized, controlled and administered system of services that serves us very well, the U.S. Postal Service, it seems reasonable to assume that a health insurance business could be run the same way.
We buy postage stamps at a very reasonable cost; the post office clearly competes with the Fed Ex and UPS businesses, both of which seem to be doing well. It is then obvious that a government-created and run health insurance business could be successful – not paid for by taxes, but insurance to be purchased from the USHI (United States Health Insurance Authority) by those wanting and needing health insurance at a cost they could well afford.
The precedence for this service includes the Post Office and the Tennessee Valley Authority, created to give Tennessee farmers inexpensive electrical service, among others.
Everybody is to be able to buy into the plan, with or without preexisting conditions. The cost of the premium is to be determined by the actuaries
that put the details together; however, with a modest deductible and removing the greed factor (hidden concealed high payments to physicians and hospitals). The premium payments for this insurance should be very low.
The government has already established a fee-system for the payment of health services, called Medicare. This system is characterized by medical and hospital payments that are far below the payments made to physicians and hospitals by the for-profit insurers, the premiums for which are huge and rising annually.
Whereas, Medicare payments for surgical, radiological and oncological services are relatively low compared to those of the for-profit people but not cheap by standard values for services, the Medicare payments to family physicians, internists and pediatricians are very low by any standard.
Since most physicians now accept Medicare payment for services to the elderly, it is anticipated that an improved payment system would be welcomed.
Therefore, it is proposed that the USHI create a payment schedule for the surgeons, radiologists and oncologists 150 percent above that of Medicare and for the family physicians, internists and pediatricians 200 percent above that of Medicare.
The plan would include a deductible of $1,000 to $1,500 to further lower the cost of the premium, depending upon the size of a family or single person. It is likely that actuaries will finally determine the cost of the premium. The cost of administering the program would necessarily be built into the premium base – multimillion dollar CEO’s would not be part of this Authority.
Anybody and everybody would be free to purchase this insurance. Those that choose to continue with the for-profit plans are free to do so. For the many millions of farmers, small businesses and their employees, and others without health insurance protection, this plan can prove life-saving as well as markedly reducing the incidence of medical bankruptcies.
Dr. Louis Sennett, M.D., is founder of Metro Medical Testing LLC in Milwaukee.