Monday, September 17, 2007

"Socialism" and National Health Insurance - in the US

Hillary Clinton proposed her ideas for a national health plan today. She was clear to avoid anything that might create a "bureaucracy" or be a single-payer-plan, having learned that "socialism" is not appealing to many in the U.S. Her plan will require all to have coverage, employers to pay towards health coverage (in ways that are unclear to me now), and subsidies for low income people.

Per 2006 US Census data, the median family income for a family of four in 2006 (for most states this number of family members had the highest median income) for a random set of states in the U.S. was:

60,298 - 75,775 - 66,711 - 67,897 - 72,591 - 66,095 - 67,560 - 59,663 - 78,413 - 71,559 - which averages between $68-69,000/year.

The current costs of health insurance for the average family appear to be roughly: $12,000/year - as per the data below.

The Kaiser survey found three out of five employers (60%) offered coverage, down from 69% five years earlier, with most losses in small companies. Among employers with 200 or more workers, 98% offer health coverage.

This year, the average annual premium for family coverage hit $10,880

The average annual premium for family coverage amounts to $12,106 in 2007

The percentage of people covered by employer-based health insurance fell to 59.7 percent in 2006, down from 60.2 percent in 2005. It was 64.2 percent in 2000.

It is unclear to me how families of four who lack health insurance with incomes in the range of $60,000 - $75,000 (besides the obvious impossibility for lower income people) at the very least could possibly afford to pay most or all of the costs of health insurance costing them $12,000/year, where they don't have health insurance through work or retirement/disability pensions.

It is one thing to talk about "subsidizing" the health insurance needs of "low income people". Unfortunately middle income people will need assistance as well.

It's unclear to me why I, as a retired Federal Employee, should pay roughly $2,400/year for quite good health insurance while others who lack employer coverage or similar should have to pay almost five times as much as we pay for comparable coverage.

I think that some form of Single Payer Health Insurance is the only viable way for us to have a faintly logical health care system. I can imagine employers being taxed - based upon their income or gross receipts or similar. It seems illogical to me to penalize employers by taxing them for each employee that they employee. Obviously if insurance will be "affordable" to employees it will be "unaffordable" to most small employers (who tend not to have health insurance plans today). Current law (and other plans that tax employers by employee) provide an incentive to have "contract workers" rather than "employees" and to avoid adding to one's payroll.

My pet health insurance idea is in an old blog entry of mine from my early blogging days.

I hope that others will push for single payer!


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