Financing Healthcare in the USA

How to finance healthcare in the United States has become a political and moral issue. We are currently spending 20% of GNP on healthcare. Yet our infant mortality is higher, life expectancy is lower and the increasing number of our population is receiving meager often substandard care than other developed nations.

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We have excellent medical personnel, superb hospitals and world renowned research facilities. However, the high cost of care and the uneven distribution of care is due primarily the results of a chaotic system of financing and payments. Medicare, Medicaid and For Profit health insurance companies all contribute to a patch work of programs that are costly and inefficient. The recently enacted “Affordable Health Care” plan is an attempt to correct our system. However, it is generally agreed that initially the cost of care will increase and the equality-distribution of care will be uneven at best.

 

What then is the solution that will provide quality care for our population without bankrupting our nation’s resources?

 

1. We need to determine who will be included in healthcare:

A. Universal care for everyone living in the united States and its territories?

B. Citizens covered with employers’ plans, the balance insured by government programs with dollar limitations?


2. Who will pay the medical cost?

A. Government, either Federal or State Plans?

B. Private enterprise (employer based) ?

C. Individual vouchers and and welfare (Medicare/Medicaid)?


3. How will funds be collected?

A. Taxes?

B. Individual policies ?

C. Employer or group coverage


4. How will limitations be established?
This needs to determined, because without some method of limitations, costs will balloon out of control.

A. Policy dollars?

B. Procedures?

C. Annual budget amounts?

 

Currently we have an odd mixture of free enterprise and government programs that is producing high cost and unequal care.

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2 responses

  1. Why does the United States spent close to 20% of GNP on health care when other countries spend much less, with health outcomes better in many cases? There are many answers to this question, some of which are written about by Steven Brill in a recent article in Time Magazine. I am currently leaning toward a “basic ” Universal plan which everyone would pay into, on a sliding scale, with those who want more extensive coverage paying higher premiums. The Devil is in the details, which would take Congress hundreds or thousands of pages to write, and I am not prepared to have a fight with the Devil at this time. I would appreciate readers to add their thoughts on this blog. Greg

  2. Reflecting on Steve Brill’s article, his guiding principle of “following the money” makes more and more sense. The “healthcare industrial complex” as some have termed it has led to less competition rather than more. Those that champion less regulation have opened the American Public up to more manipulation by special interest groups whose motivation is ever more profits without regard to possible harm to the country in the long term.

    I think it is naive to believe that unrestrained capitalism is the end-all solution to most of the financial problems facing our country. As the larger hospitals and insurance companies buy up their smaller rivals, there is even less competition which incentivizes them to consolidate the industry even more.

    What occurred with the banking system shows what can happens when you get too big to be allowed to fail: enter government bailouts which further reduced competition. And, lobbyists for special interest groups plead for favorable legislation and subsidies which further reduces competition at taxpayer expense. What are some possible solutions?

    Greg

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