Political and Legal information on the Health Care Debate. View our freshly updated You Tube videos about health care on the right hand side of this blog. Includes ideas from politicians concerning Universal Health Care. Information on all things health insurance related from Medicare to short term health insurance.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Medicare bankrupt by 2019

Here is the problem with the concept of Universal Health Care through "medicare for all" which is what many of the Presidential candidates claim as a solution. Medicare is a wonderful program that I do wish that I could get because it costs less for me and has better benefits than anything I could get. If you add more people onto the medicare system, it will be bankrupt sooner than 2019. I know I stated in an earlier blog that I thought Kucinich's idea would be the best model if Universal health care were to become reality. But I mostly meant the model THROUGH the non-profit insurer rather than the government provided single payor 'medicare for all'.

So before the government decides that it is a good idea to give away something else, I hope that they realize that they first need to make sure they have the ability to "give" me what they have already promised. I'm 35 years old now. . . I'll be 'eligible' for medicare in its current system in the year 2037. I pay my taxes into the medicare system and hope it is available for me. It is too hot a topic for any well meaning politician to discuss, so I don't expect it. Here is the article. . . enjoy.

Medicare will be bankrupt by 2019

Medicare Will Be Bankrupt by 2019
Taxpayer Groups Sound Alarm in Wake of Trustees' Report on Medicare
Written By: Tom Schatz
Published In: Budget & Tax NewsPublication
Date: May 1, 2004
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW)--the 20-year-old watchdog group dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government--on March 25 criticized national leaders for "overseeing the fiscal deterioration of the Medicare program over the last four decades."

CAGW's criticism came in response to a report issued a day earlier by the trustees who monitor the fiscal health of Medicare and Social Security. The trustees estimate the fund for hospital bills in the Medicare program will run dry by 2019, seven years sooner than predicted last year, largely thanks to the new Medicare bill. Medicare begins dipping into its trust fund for the first time this year.

"Politicians in Washington ignored this problem for several decades, and then they make it worse by adding a costly prescription drug benefit," CAGW President Tom Schatz said. "The retirement of the baby boomers will spell fiscal doom for older and younger generations alike."
"Medicare's own trustees have confirmed what taxpayer advocates warned about all along," agreed John Berthoud, president of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU). "A 35 percent increase in the drug plan's 10-year cost estimate, mounting evidence that employers will dump seniors' private coverage, and now [the] trustees' report all add up to an economic doomsday scenario that thoughtful policymakers can't ignore any longer."

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The AP recently published this article about the differences in health insurance premium for men and women. It is not actually "discriminatory", but it is based on statistics for individuals within a certain sex and class. If the statistics show that a male in a certain age bracket spends less money than a female in that same age bracket, the females will pay more. Anyway the article gives insight into how premiums are set and where differences are. I thought it was good to link to. Enjoy.

Popular health-insurance plans punish women

Females charged more for having reproductive organs, Harvard study finds:

ATLANTA - High-deductible health insurance plans favored by many employers often wind up being an unfair burden to women, a new study says, largely because women need many routine medical exams that quickly add up.

The median expense for men under 45 in these plans was less than $500, but for women it was more than $1,200, according to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers.

They also found that only a third of insured men in that age group spent more than $1,050 in annual medical costs, while 55 percent of women did.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

New approach to control health care costs

This is an effort by a large insurance company (Wellpath) to attempt to control costs through modifying the behavior of the insured (it's own employees). This is a very good idea because the best way to control health care costs is to not need health care because of your health. If people stop smoking, eat healthy, and exercise on a regular basis, the cost of health care would dramatically go down. This is a good idea by Wellpath and one that will need to be monitored as "health care on a large scale".

On another note, this is the primary reason that I do not believe that Health Care is a "right". In other words, if I work hard to take care of myself so that I do not have health care issues, I should not be forced (through taxes) to pay for someone who does not live a healthy lifestyle to get their expensive health care.

Enjoy the article.

Health Insurer Ties Customer Health to Employee Bonuses

Tuesday , April 03, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS — WellPoint Inc. (WLP) employees will have a personal stake in the health of the company's customers, thanks to a new plan that ties a portion of their annual bonuses to it.
The nation's largest health insurer unveiled a plan Tuesday to link 5 percent of every annual bonus to a new measurement called the Member Health Index.
The index will monitor 20 different clinical areas to determine whether patient care is improving.

It aims to take measurements from broad categories like patient safety or care management and tell whether care has improved for most patients, but especially those dealing with chronic conditions like diabetes, or high blood pressure, said Dr. Sam Nussbaum, Wellpoint's executive vice president and chief medical officer.

If the index reaches an improvement goal set by the company, WellPoint's roughly 42,000 employees will see the result in their bonus check. The new measurement affects every employee from the executive suite on down, Nussbaum said.
"It's basically all or nothing for our company this year," he said. "We're either going to achieve it or we're not going to achieve it."

Linking employee bonuses to care improvements will "get everyone energized about improving health care in our company," he added.
Consultant Bob Boyer said he knows of no other insurer that links employee bonuses to the health of its customers.

The program shows WellPoint is making "a concerted effort to show that they've got some skin in the game, when it comes to their members' health," said Boyer, market business leader for the Indianapolis office of Mercer Health and Benefits.

"That might be the next evolution in measuring member health," he said. "I think it's an innovative approach."

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Pharmacy lobbyists control Congress

If any of you watch 60 minutes, you would have seen an excellent piece concerning the high cost of prescription drugs in America. It is amazing to me that with all the "alarm" about the rising cost of health care, there is no mention of the huge profits prescription drug companies make as a part of that health care dollar. This piece discussed the passage of the medicare prescription drug bill that was "written by the lobbyists" and "rushed through".

The whole article here - 60 minutes piece "Under the Influence" by Steve Kroft

From the piece:

The unorthodox roll call on one of the most expensive bills ever placed before the House of Representatives began in the middle of the night, long after most people in Washington had switched off C-SPAN and gone to sleep.

The only witnesses were congressional staffers, hundreds of lobbyists, and U.S. Representatives like Dan Burton, R-Ill., and Walter Jones, R-N.C.

"The pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote the bill," says Jones. "The bill was over 1,000 pages. And it got to the members of the House that morning, and we voted for it at about 3 a.m. in the morning." Why did the vote finally take place at 3 a.m.? "Well, I think a lot of the shenanigans that were going on that night, they didn't want on national television in primetime," according to Burton. "I've been in politics for 22 years," says Jones, "and it was the ugliest night I have ever seen in 22 years."

End of quote:

Any debate on Universal Health Care is going to have to go through these very powerful lobbyists. Cost is a major obstacle in the way of achieving affordable health care for everybody, and these lobbyists care about nothing except the money that the drug companies can make. The United States pays more for prescription drugs than any other country. It is even illegal to get the exact same drug at half price in Mexico or Canada. The VA is allowed to negotiate lower rates for prescription drugs, but the medicare prescription drug bill explicitly excludes the ability to negotiate for the best price on the prescription drugs.

If I don't pay for prescription drugs because I don't need any, I thank God for my health, but don't care as much about the cost of these drugs I won't take because of my healthy lifestyle. However, if there is universal health care paid for by my tax dollars, I want to make sure that the prescription drug companies are not taking the money out of my pocket at will for drugs that I don't take.

Why are there prescription drug commercials? What happened to the day when if you were ailing, you went to the doctor. If the doctor thinks a prescription drug can help cure you or ease the symptoms, the doctor writes a prescription. Why do we need TV commercials telling us what drugs to ask our doctor for before we are even diagnosed with anything? More cost, more waste of the health care dollar. If you get a chance, watch this 60 minutes piece. It is very eye opening.