Oatway: Medicare for all remains a good plan

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The fear-mongering argument against Medicare for All is that government will take control of our health-care decisions and Americans will lose an important freedom.

The fact is that almost 50 percent of Americans are already on government-provided or government-run health insurance (includes Medicare; Medicaid; veterans’ benefits; public employee plans; politicians with so-called Cadillac plans, etc.).

Another significant percentage of Americans gets its health insurance through employers, whose deductible medical expenses are partially refunded by reduced taxes. Often these employer plans are limited in insurance options and benefits.

And they can be so expensive that employees opt out of purchasing the coverage.

The conservative rhetoric argues that Medicare for All, or a single-payer pool for the currently employed but uninsured, is a slippery path to socialist government-run health care.

What is lost in the discussion is that this segment of Americans is relatively small, under 10 percent of the population.

One reasonable approach might be to collect all of the uninsured who are employed, or self-employed, in a large enough pool for Medicare to cover them affordably for basic health care, offering managed care plans, or regular Medicare augmented by supplemental insurance plans, to pay for what Medicare does not cover.

This might be more affordable for those in the individual market than the insurance plans offered in small, potentially costly risk pools. Insurance companies are understandably avoiding smaller risk pools like the plague.

Congress thus far has failed to address this problem with the ACA (Obamacare). Offering individuals low-cost, high-deductible plans that provide meager coverage benefits is not a solution.

Expensive medical treatment will land these people in bankruptcy, or dependent upon ERs and hospitals to provide “free” care needs after they become extremely expensive, or possibly too late.

In this case, “free” just means everyone else will pay for it. Isn’t this the definition of socialized medicine, GOP style?

Some individuals now covered by employer-provided insurance may find it more affordable to decline employer coverage and opt for Medicare for All. Insurance experts would need to weigh in on whether this would potentially doom employer-based coverage or enhance its affordability.

Since the U.S. is the only major industrialized country which embraces employer-provided health coverage insurance, while also not providing universal coverage, it might be time that we revisit current policy.

Unfortunately, the current congressional legislative process is secretive and closeted, as well as failing to bring in the key stakeholders, including employers, health-care suppliers, insurance companies and the general public. Thus, there is no objective discussion of the pros and cons of various health-care options.

We get more informed discussion of health-care policy from newspapers like The Signal than from Congress.

Thomas Oatway is a Valencia resident.


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