MY VOICE: ACA will add to the bottom line
The Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare,” is a huge step forward in medical insurance reform. It is struggling to make its implementation schedule and is creating a lot of ambiguity and some anxiety for almost everyone concerned. There are many good things about this act that strengthen and improve coverage.
But, when all is said and done, we have added mightily to the bottom line of Wall Street and private insurance companies.
Private insurance companies will greatly increase their profits when the number of insured people is significantly increased. Shareholders will receive higher dividends and CEO salaries and bonuses can go even higher than they are now. And under the Affordable Care Act and Cover Oregon, insurance companies can keep raising premiums at double-digit rates, pricing most of us out of useful private health insurance in the next five to 10 years.
There has been much interest and discussion on the part of some exploring a public, or single-payer, option. In its Affordable Care Act, Congress chose not to implement a single-payer system, voting instead for medical insurance reform. What many of us may not realize is that our senior citizens have had a single-payer system since the mid-l960s. It is called Medicare.
Everyone pays into a fund that is administered by the federal government at an administrative cost of less than 2 percent. This program has gained the support of folks over the age of 65 and easily could have been expanded to cover everyone. This could be done without setting up all of these insurance exchanges, now infamous for their computer glitches, and their associated costs even without glitches.
I have come to think that health care should be a “human right,” similar to other things we take for granted in our society, such as everyone should be entitled to police protection and public education. With that premise, I think we should fund effective health care delivery systems just like we do other public services that we believe are important in our society for our way of life. For example, we do not hear wild public outcry because state and local governments tax citizens to pay for police departments, fire departments and public schools. Paying insurance company CEOs rich compensation packages or quarterly profits to Wall Street just adds to our cost. Evidently our Congress found it more important to listen to, and do the bidding of, insurance lobbyists rather than act in the best interests of the public, their constituents. Congress chose to ignore the fact that Medicare works and could have been expanded easily at much less cost to the taxpayers/health care consumers than the cost taxpayers/health care consumers will be paying for health care with the health insurance reform of the Affordable Care Act.
David B. Still, 74, is a retired public health/mental health administrator for Union County.
My Voice columns should be 500 to 700 words. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships.
We edit submissions for brevity, grammar, taste and legal reasons. We reject those published elsewhere.