By Jack Bernard
Modern Healthcare, Letters, August 17/24, 2020
I was not surprised to read that job-based health insurance coverage is projected to cost more next year (“Job-based health coverage will be more expensive in 2021,” ModernHealthcare.com, Aug. 18).
Private insurance companies have an overhead rate of 12% versus about 2% for Medicare, in large part due to marketing and other administrative expenses. The only way for them to compete is either through cherry-picking (via having fewer truly ill clients), withholding reimbursement for needed care, or through higher rates. None of these strategies are desirable from the consumer’s standpoint.
In the 1970s, the percentage of America’s gross domestic product consumed by healthcare expenditures was 8%. It’s more than doubled to 18%. A major reason for the difference in costs is our emphasis on private insurance companies.
And let’s not forget that as Americans lost their jobs during the pandemic, in many cases they also lost their health insurance.
What’s the obvious remedy? We must have Medicare for All. Single-payer works in Canada, for example, and it can work just as well here (as it does in so many other developed countries). All Canadians are covered and per capita costs ($4,826) are a fraction of what we pay ($10,209).
Single-payer is the ultimate solution, but is opposed by the massive and influential healthcare industrial complex for obvious self-interested reasons. And they spread their money around in both parties, influencing policy for their own benefit.
As voters, we will once again have the power to enact change in a few short months via who we send to Washington.
Jack Bernard, the first director of health planning for Georgia, has been an executive with several national health care firms. A Republican, he’s a former chairman of the Jasper County Commission.