Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Would health insurance stamps (like food stamps) be a better way to universal coverage?

There has to be a better way to cover the uninsured than the massively expensive government run health plan being proposed by congressional Democrats and the administration. Not only will it destroy the existing health industry, but it will result in rationing to control costs. It will bring VA quality health care to the general public, as Congress and the very wealthy get Bethesda Naval Medical Center treatment.

Here is a better alternative. It is a plan is to offer “health insurance stamps” similar to food stamps to the needy who are not covered by employer funded health care. With these “stamps” the eligible uninsured would be able to buy a policy that best served their family needs. And it would preserve the existing health care infrastructure. The math bears out a significant savings over the proposed congressional plan which the non-partisan CBO estimates at $1.6 billion over ten years.

Here are the numbers: There are roughly 45 million without health insurance (2004). Of these 17 million live in households with $50,000 annual income. Many of these are “young invincibles” who, as a matter of choice, do not to buy health insurance. About 12 million are in the country illegally. This leaves roughly 16 million who are truly uninsured. Using a Wal Mart plan (value about $5,000/year) as a model, the annual cost to the government would run about $80 billion, half the annual cost of the proposed government plan. Other than costs, the advantages are: It would mainntain the competitive private insurance market to keep costs under control. Existing health insurance providers would continue in place and all insured would have a free choice of insurers.

There would be no threat of the government undercutting and eliminating private insurers There is an existing infrastructure in place for determining eligibility and issuing health insurance cards in the USDA’s current “food stamp” program now called SNAP. (Actual stamps are no longer used, an electronic card similar to an ATM card has replaced them) There would be no incentive for employers to pull out of current insurance plans and flood the government plan with massive additional costs, as the proposed government plan will do.

No comments: