Game over. Declining stock prices, declining profits, escalating prices and operating costs (including the medical-loss ratio) and push back from customers. Costs are rising to the extent that businesses, the principal buyer of health insurance for their employees, continue to drop coverage. Throw in unemployment that is popping and you see a model for paying for health care that is dead – they just refuse to completely die.
I’ve been saying this for years, as have others, all in different ways. Two recent posts in two different blogs sum up the situation and make a compelling case: either the health insurance industry really takes on the job of managing care, and quality care,
I’ve been clear in my support for a national health care financing system, with mandatory participation. My thought is that it would still be employer based, allowing employers to add to the mandated minimum as a competitive tool. The health insurance companies can offer varying plans to fit the minimum – and the upscale programs. We can also allow individuals to buy-in to richer benefit programs to meet their personal needs. I also favor continuing the tax-deduction – patients still pay, on average, over 20 percent of the cost of care, so there is already a “sharing of the pain”. We want people to orient to prevention and compliance – such as filling prescriptions.
Something is going to happen over the next 4-6 years. Clearly, the economy is job number 1 for President –elect Obama. But the cost of health care is a major drag on companies, particularly for companies with an older workforce. A national program levels the playing field.