A recent PBS discussion between Ron Pollack with Families USA, healthcare blogger Robert Lasczewski, and Thomas Mann with the Brookings Institute ranged over several significant reform topics, including the cost of the uninsured. Here is an excerpt from Pollack’s remarks:
If we fail to link improved coverage affordability and expansion with a prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions, the older and sicker portion of the population will enroll in coverage and the younger and healthier part of the population will drop such coverage — thereby leading to a skyrocketing premium cost spiral.
Doing this will provide significant relief to people and businesses that purchase health coverage today. This is because premiums for health coverage contain a “hidden health tax” that substantially increases the premiums to underwrite the uncompensated health care costs of the uninsured. A report by Families USA, based on data developed by the well-respected actuarial firm Milliman, Inc., found that the average premium for family health coverage contained an average “hidden health tax” of $1,017 in 2008 — a figure which is no doubt higher today. Hence, the extended health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people, as envisioned in the Senate and House bills, will provide premium relief for America’s families as well as businesses that currently offer coverage for their workers.
See the full Families USA study here. See more on the individual mandate here.
We have talked about this before: So much in estimating the cost of covering the uninsured depends on starting with the right assumptions. The Wall Street Journal has an article on this topic today. Here’s an excerpt:
The Census Bureau estimates that the number of uninsured amounts to 45.7 million people. But the agency might be overcounting by millions due to faulty assumptions. Another problem: That 45.7 million figure includes undocumented immigrants, even though they aren’t likely to be covered under new laws.
“There is a range of uncertainty in health legislation that probably exceeds that of most other issues before Congress,” says Robert D. Reischauer, who headed the Congressional Budget Office when it was analyzing the Clinton health plan.
The head of the White House Office of Healthcare Reform stoked some controversy this week by suggesting that a Medicare-like model is not the only way to go when it comes to a public healthcare option:
There are different breeds of public plans that could be part of this.”
The response from many organizations has been negative. Still, there are certainly other models. Before the Medicare-like public plan idea gained steam, an FEHBP-type plan was often mentioned. Then there is the Healthy American Act.
Not to mention ideas from overseas. The Dutch system has drawn a lot of attention; see the interview below for more information on that.
A wholesale change seems less likely than something incremental, but perhaps there are things to learn from other countries. Either way, it is simply too early to handicap this race.
For profit, for everyone: Exploring the Dutch healthcare system
The Dutch healthcare system is the world’s only private system of basic healthcare insurance operated by insurance companies for profit. We asked Dutch healthcare actuaries Roeleke Uildriks and Ji Kwen Ng to explain.
Economy, Global, Government, Reform, Universal coverage