Af­ford­able health­care: a crit­i­cal Election Day is­sue

Rappahannock News - - EVENTS - BY CASEY EITNER

Mak­ing health­care more af­ford­able has got to be a top is­sue in the up­com­ing election. Our na­tion has the most ex­pen­sive health­care sys­tem in the world — we spend 18 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct on it.

The 15 other coun­tries with a com­pa­ra­ble stan­dard of liv­ing and large economies spend

10.8 per­cent. A common mis­un­der­stand­ing is that they have worse health­care. Wrong! They live longer — an av­er­age

82 years to our 78.6. They have bet­ter out­comes in most dis­eases in­clud­ing di­a­betes and heart disease. Their in­fant and ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rates are lower. They have one thing in common: they all have some sort of pub­lic op­tion for ev­ery­one.

Den­ver Rig­gle­man and the Repub­li­cans say that would be way too costly. How can it pos­si­bly get any more ex­pen­sive than it is al­ready? But they only look at how much more tax dol­lars would have to be spent for a Medi­care op­tion for ev­ery­one, rather than on to­tal costs across all seg­ments of health­care.

If you’re a 62 year old with no pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions and have to pay $950 per month to a pri­vate in­sur­ance com­pany . . . with cov­er­age only after the first $6,000 in out-of-pocket, that’s $17,000 paid in be­fore the first penny comes back in cov­er­age. Why, you’d be happy to pay thou­sands of dol­lars per year in taxes in­stead, and still come out ahead with a Medi­care­type op­tion.

Now, over half of Amer­i­cans get their health­care cov­er­age through em­ploy­ers so

on the sur­face this would not seem as a big a con­cern for them. But the share paid by em­ploy­ees has got­ten big­ger and big­ger, and ris­ing em­ployer health in­sur­ance costs are the main con­trib­u­tor to stag­nant salaries. If you pay so much more for health in­sur­ance, you can’t in­crease take-home pay. Our enor­mously high health­care costs put our busi­nesses at a com­pet­i­tive dis­ad­van­tage glob­ally.

What does Mr. Rig­gle­man pro­pose as a solution to all this? Dou­bling down on pri­vate in­sur­ance. Let for­profit in­sur­ers sell cheaper poli­cies that cover much less. Let them sell across state lines, which will only al­low them to sell bad poli­cies with­out what lit­tle state over­sight ex­ists now.

And less than two weeks from the elec­tions Don­ald Trump has fi­nally wo­ken up to the health­care cost is­sue by propos­ing that Medi­care be al­lowed to ne­go­ti­ate with drug com­pa­nies for bet­ter prices. Duh! All th­ese other coun­tries have been do­ing that for decades to drive down drug costs.

Sen­a­tor Kaine and Leslie Cockburn have sound proposals for re­form­ing health­care and re­duc­ing costs by pro­vid­ing a pub­lic op­tion al­ter­na­tive to un­af­ford­able for-profit in­sur­ance, and mak­ing it avail­able to ev­ery­one. That’s why I’m vot­ing for them Novem­ber 6th.

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