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Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 10:14 AM   #1
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Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Martha is this something new? http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...s/4400209.html

Senator wants universal health care plan

By MATTHEW DALY Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON(AP) Several business and labor leaders on Wednesday hailed a proposal to provide health care coverage to all Americans through a pool of private insurance plans.

A dozen years after Congress rejected a Clinton administration plan for universal health care, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden offered a plan he said would provide affordable, private health care coverage for all Americans, except those covered through Medicare or the military.

"Employer-based coverage is melting away like a Popsicle on the sidewalk in August," Wyden said.

Wyden, a Democrat and a member of the Senate Finance health care subcommittee, said his plan would "guarantee health coverage for every American that is at least as good as members of Congress receive and can never be taken away."

The plan, dubbed the "Healthy Americans Act," would provide universal coverage for no more money than the country spends on health insurance today, Wyden said.

Wyden, a veteran of the 1990s health care battle, drew support from groups that have frequently opposed each other, including Andy Stern, international president of the Service Employees International Union, and Safeway Inc. CEO Steve Burd.

Stern called employer-based health coverage a relic of an industrial economy that is long gone, and said U.S. companies "cannot compete in a global economy when we put the price of health care on the cost of our products, and our competitor nations do not."

Stern said the health care system had failed to create jobs while adding to trade deficits and holding wages stagnant. For the nation's 46 million uninsured, "it is a failed moral policy as well," Stern said.

Burd said his California-based grocery chain had saved millions in health care costs by emphasizing preventative care and offering discounts for nonsmokers and others with lower health risks.

Left unchecked, health care costs will soon surpass net income for many companies, Burd said, calling Wyden's proposal a bold plan to restart a national dialogue on health care.

"Working together, business, labor, government, consumer groups and health care providers can collectively solve this problem," he said.

Wyden's plan is an outgrowth of work by the Citizens' Health Care Working Group, a 14-member panel that held meetings in 36 states and heard from 28,000 people about how to overhaul the nation's health care system.

The group, created in 2003 by legislation sponsored by Wyden and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, recommended that the government take steps to guarantee that all Americans have basic health insurance coverage by 2012.

Wyden said his new plan would allow workers to carry their health insurance from job to job without penalty. More efficient administration and more promotion of competition for health care plans, he said, would allow greater coverage while costing no more than the government is paying today for health insurance coverage.

The plan would require that employers "cash out" their existing health plans by terminating coverage and paying the amount saved directly to workers as increased wages. Workers then would be required to buy health insurance from a large pool of private plans.

After two years, companies would no longer have to pay the higher wages. Instead, Wyden said, they would pay into an insurance pool, based on annual revenues and the number of full-time workers.

At Wyden's request, the Lewin Group, a Virginia-based health care consulting firm, reviewed the plan. The consultant said the plan would reduce health spending by private employers by nearly three-quarters and save $1.4 trillion in total national health care spending over the next decade.

Increases in premium payments for individuals and families would be offset by higher wages and subsidies provided under the plan, the report said. As an example, Wyden cited a worker who earned $60,000 last year, and received about $12,000 worth of health care coverage.

The worker's health insurance would be terminated but his salary would increase to $72,000, which would cover his health care coverage. The plan would bar workers from buying a "bare-bones" health package and pocketing the savings, Wyden said.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 11:44 AM   #2
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

I can't open your link.

I do know the Senator Wyden and Orrin Hatch have worked on many health care proposals over the years and it is a special interest of both of them so I am not surprised that Wyden would start unveiling plans for universal coverage. He has in the past.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 11:56 AM   #3
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
I can't open your link.
OK, I quoted it....even though it's a no-no.

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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 12:04 PM   #4
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Thanks. Looks like he has some new twists. Before he talked a lot about catastrophic plans. This seems much more comprehensive but still keeping insurance companies in the mix. Wonder how his proposals deal with underwriting.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 12:16 PM   #5
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

So If I understand this plan correctly businesses will pay the same amount as now but everyone is covered. Insurance companies are still involved.

Something doesn't add up here. Either business and individuals will pay more for the premiums through taxes. Or else healthcare available will be cut/rationed so that the presently uninsured/underinsured will have healthcare.

Other than covering everybody, somebody has to pay more or get less. Where is the free lunch here ?

I don't see how this plan helps anything ? Please enlighten me.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 12:29 PM   #6
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

My understanding is that the individuals get paid more (by law) because the company doesn't have to pay for health insurance anymore, and the individuals use that extra income to purchase health insurance. Implicit also is that the health insurance is cheaper because everyone has it (??).

Quote:
Increases in premium payments for individuals and families would be offset by higher wages
Of course that doesn't help us retirees.

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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 12:34 PM   #7
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

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Increases in premium payments for individuals and families would be offset by higher wages
Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
Of course that doesn't help us retirees.
C'mon Al. You're looking at this all wrong. You can always go back to work and take full advantage of the new program!

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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 01:16 PM   #8
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

If insurance carriers remain predominant in the system, $.35 of every $1.00 spend on health care will still go toward administrative costs and profits.

I applaud the universal coverage. Perhaps letting the government act as a re-insurer for claim amounts over, say, $10k/y/person will keep the insurance carriers' role in balance, yet allow them to make a profit. It would also allow those of us fortunate to have some money to bypass the, too, if we so chose.

Eager to hear what the latest Wyden plan has to say about that.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 04:29 PM   #9
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!
The worker's health insurance would be terminated but his salary would increase to $72,000, which would cover his health care coverage. The plan would bar workers from buying a "bare-bones" health package and pocketing the savings, Wyden said.[/i]
This is a typical liberal (socialistic) plan where everyone gets to march in step and gets the same plan. For five years, we have chosen the high deductible low cost plan for our Megacorp retirement medical plan. This is saving us about $2500 per year so far and we can always switch back to a PPO if we ever desire.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 09:28 PM   #10
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Quote:
The plan ... would provide universal coverage for no more money than the country spends on health insurance today ... and save $1.4 trillion in total national health care spending
sure would like to see how that's supposed to work
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 09:31 PM   #11
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Hey guys, we don't know anything about the plan yet so I suggest we wait before we poop on it.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-14-2006, 10:06 PM   #12
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
Hey guys, we don't know anything about the plan yet so I suggest we wait before we poop on it.
But david-in-SC already told us all we need to know - its a "typical liberal (socialistic) plan"...enough said. How can you dispute a well thought out argument like that?

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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-15-2006, 12:39 AM   #13
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

The cynic in me is coming out.....in the current system, the 12K spent on my healthcare comes out pretax, but, in the new system, the 12k would be paid directly to me, for the purpose of buying insurance. Am I alone in supposing that the Government might choose to tax this as income, also subject to state, ss, and medicare taxes ? It wouldn't make sense if they wouldn't allow you to deduct it, but then lots of things from the government don't make sense.

"Increases in premium payments for individuals and families would be offset by higher wages and subsidies provided under the plan, the report said. As an example, Wyden cited a worker who earned $60,000 last year, and received about $12,000 worth of health care coverage.

The worker's health insurance would be terminated but his salary would increase to $72,000, which would cover his health care coverage. The plan would bar workers from buying a "bare-bones" health package and pocketing the savings, Wyden said."
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-15-2006, 08:31 AM   #14
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

It sounds like the government is going to be very involved in my life by going to this type of program.

I don't understand how my premiums can go down and those who are uninsured can receive insurance and have everything provided by private insurance without the government spending money. The government would be spending my tax money. So actually my health care costs might actually go up because I have to pay more in taxes.

I'd be interested in seeing how they pull off lower insurance premiums, while increasing the number of insured and not decimate the insurance industry.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-15-2006, 08:40 AM   #15
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Quote:
Originally Posted by lets-retire
I don't understand how my premiums can go down and those who are uninsured can receive insurance and have everything provided by private insurance without the government spending money. The government would be spending my tax money. So actually my health care costs might actually go up because I have to pay more in taxes.
Insurance company profits, marketing etc. account for 30% of each health care dollar. The Fed already pays for close to half of all health care in the U. S. through Medicare, military, VA health system etc. Uninsured people use emergency rooms for primary care, inflating costs exponentially. Preventive services are among the first to fall by the wayside when out-of-pocket costs are required.

The administrative burden of dealing with our current system is expensive at every level - I had 1 FTE dealing strictly with HMOs and the like back when I was in private practice (though this may not change under universal coverage). I provided a good amount of unreimbursed care and I am sure that my fees reflected this for those who could pay, if not intentionally or explicitly (like the $30 tylenol tablet in the hospital).

Many feel that these inherent savings alone will largely offset the broader coverage for all citizens. And in the end, if it does cost a bit more, that cost buys you the freedom of retiring, changing jobs, moving etc. without fearing loss of coverage.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-15-2006, 10:46 AM   #16
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Quote:
Originally Posted by macnjus
The cynic in me is coming out.....in the current system, the 12K spent on my healthcare comes out pretax, but, in the new system, the 12k would be paid directly to me, for the purpose of buying insurance. Am I alone in supposing that the Government might choose to tax this as income, also subject to state, ss, and medicare taxes ? It wouldn't make sense if they wouldn't allow you to deduct it, but then lots of things from the government don't make sense.
You've touched upon, IMHO, one of the most egregious inequities in our tax code. While working, anything we pay toward employer-provided health insurance is pre-tax. Even if the employer pays 100% of our health insurance, we do not have to include it in our adjusted gross income. Folks who get health insurance as part of their retirement benefits do not have to include it as income. But folks (other than the self-employed) who buy individual health insurance can only deduct the premiums on Schedule A. So if they don't itemize - no deduction. Even if they itemize, the health insurance is subject to the 7.5% threshold for medical deductions.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-15-2006, 02:16 PM   #17
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

And IIRC the premiums can only be deducted up to the amount of medical care actually billed to your insurance.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-15-2006, 02:57 PM   #18
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Insurance company profits, marketing etc. account for 30% of each health care dollar.
Wonder how this compares to other (profit and non-profit) service oriented industries?
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-15-2006, 04:17 PM   #19
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

The current health care and health insurance system is so bad that any new plan has a reasonable chance of being an improvement.
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"
Old 12-15-2006, 04:26 PM   #20
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Re: Senator Wyden's "health care plan for all Americans"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Insurance company profits, marketing etc. account for 30% of each health care dollar. The Fed already pays for close to half of all health care in the U. S. through Medicare, military, VA health system etc.
The proposed plan would encourage competition. I don't see where that will allow a significant reduction in marketing expenses. As a former consumer of both the military and VA's health care I wouldn't and don't speak highly of them.

I don't support a national health care program, but if one does develop I do like your idea of catastrophic insurance provided by the government.

I find it interesting that many people who oppose increasing the ability of the federal government to protect the citizens from terror on the grounds that the feds will be able to intrude into their private affairs, are the same ones who normally support the federal governments idea of offering health care. That is a guarantee the federal government will be involved with your personal life.
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