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Socialized Medicine Goes by Many Names: Budget Buster is But One

DocsMeanMembers of Congress — both Democrats and Republicans — are being asked if various health care proposals they support provide so-called “universal coverage.” Socialized medicine goes by many names: Universal Coverage, Coverage-for-All, Medicare-for-All, Medicaid Expansion and Single-Payer are ones you’ve probably heard of. Perhaps you don’t really understand what all these altruistic-sounding phrases imply. Here’s a dirty little secret: you’re not supposed to know. The average American with good employee health insurance already pays for coverage (albeit indirectly) in addition to a Social Security payroll tax surpassing 15 percent. Most Americans would balk once they discovered the ugly truth: universal coverage requires a near doubling of payroll taxes. A case in point is California, New York State, Vermont and Colorado.

CBO: Other Peoples’ Money is Popular, as is Freedom to Choose

stethoscope-on-moneyThe big news on Thursday was that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The CBO claimed 23 million people would lose coverage within a decade under provisions found in the AHCA.

  • About 10 million people would purportedly lose coverage due to the repealing of the individual and employer mandates.
  • Another 5 million are low-income individuals living in states that did not expand Medicaid.

Basically, this is another way of saying 10 million people will decide they’d rather keep their money than have poor-value health coverage. It’s hard to understand how someone can lose something they never actually had?

Drain the Health Care Swamp that’s Awash in Other Peoples’ Money

Caduceus with First-aid Kit --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Caduceus with First-aid Kit — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The 2017 winner of the Miss USA pageant ignited a firestorm on Twitter when she opined that nobody is entitled to thousands of dollars worth of free goods and services which they did not earn. The tempest in a teapot resulted when Kára McCullough said health care is a privilege, not a right. Her answer was far from perfect; she mentioned that to have health coverage you need to work.

How Technology & Health Care Systems Impact the Cost of Healthcare

stethoscope-on-moneyThe United States spends about $3 trillion on health care annually, nearly $10,000 per capita — accounting for about 18 percent of gross domestic product. Medical technology is costly, but it is not the only reason medicine is expensive. A variety of factors are to blame for what makes health care expensive in this country and abroad.

New Harris/HealthDay Poll Finds Americans are Fickle; Uninformed.

Capture53A New Harris / HealthDay Poll came out that finds many Americans do not really understand how insurance works.  Ok, what it officially found is rising support for the Affordable Care Act. About 41% want to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rather than replace it. One-quarter (25%) want to repeal the ACA, while 21% want to leave it “as is”.

Technology & Cost Containment—Why Doesn’t Medical Technology Bring Down the Cost of Healthcare?

Capture14Technology is a significant driver of high health care spending. For instance, many treatments common today were not available 40 years ago. Yet, treatments and therapies that have been in use for decades are still quite expensive. In typical consumer markets, the quality of technology gets progressively better while the (real) inflation-adjusted prices often fall as older technology is surpassed by newer technology. This is especially true of consumer electronics but also of true of automobiles, appliances and other types of consumer goods. The inflation-adjusted prices of consumer goods have held steady because consumers are price sensitive, rewarding the firms who successfully compete for their business.

Interactive Group Therapy in the Information Age

Laptop and Stethoscope --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Laptop and Stethoscope — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Imagine attending private lectures and taking all your college exams in your professors’ offices individually, one-on-one. Your instructors lecture you, then pepper you with questions, grading your answers and recording your scores. This is not unlike traditional physician visits. Contrast this to attending classroom lectures and taking online multiple choice exams where a computer algorithm tallies your answers and calculates your grade. Classroom instruction with standardized testing is much more efficient that private tutoring. Hundreds of people can learn and take their online exams simultaneously. What if medical productivity could be similarly improved?

A Bill to Establish a Single-Payer Health System Advances in California

Capture47A bill has passed its first legislative hurdle to establish a government-run program of universal coverage in California. The California Senate Health Committee passed the measure 5-2. Next it will be debated by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The sticking point is how to fund such an endeavor.

How to Solve the Pre-Existing Condition Problem

moneyThe primary sticking point in health reform is what to do with high -cost individuals who have pre-existing health conditions. People with episodic medical needs are easy to insure, while those with persistent needs are far more difficult unless insurers are allowed to underwrite enrollees’ risk. Republicans have long favored high-risk pools to cover individuals who are otherwise uninsurable. Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) just over two-thirds of states had some type of high-risk pool. Most people turned down prior to the Affordable Care Act could ultimately obtain coverage either at a higher price or after meeting some preconditions. In 2011, high-risk pool enrollment varied from 0.1% in Alabama to a high of 10.2% in Minnesota. By most accounts only about 2% of people are uninsurable. However, one Kaiser Family Foundation study argues the actual rate may be a dozen times higher.

Does Medical Weed Lower Medicaid Drug Costs?

ReeferA new study in Health Affairs looked at the effect medical marijuana has on prescription drug use in state Medicaid programs. It found positive correlation between states that have passed medical marijuana laws and lower Medicaid drug spending. Just over half of states (28) have pass some type of law that allows for medical marijuana. Researchers reviewed fee-for-service (FFS) drug utilization (2006 – 2014) in state Medicaid programs to compare states that allowed medicinal marijuana with states that did not.