Different Takes: Canada’s ‘Medicare For All’ Is A Terrible Mess; Lessons On Problems Stemming From Surprise Medical Bills
Editorial pages focus on these health care cost issues and others.
Sanders, Warren Want ‘Medicare-For-All’ Like Canada – But Canadian Health Care Is Awful
Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren want you to believe Canada’s health care system is a dream come true. And they want to make the dream even better with their “Medicare-for-all” plans. Don’t believe them. In truth, Canada's system of socialized medicine is actually a nightmare. It has left hospitals overcrowded, understaffed and unable to treat some patients. Americans would face the same dismal reality if Canadian-style "Medicare-for-all" takes root here. (Sally Pipes, 12/8)
Cutting Through The Clutter On Surprise Billing
Understanding and navigating the health care system is more challenging for patients than at any time in history. The complexities and variations among insurance plans on issues of coverage, out-of-pocket costs, and payment for care are extraordinary as compared to other consumer services. One of the most pressing examples is “surprise medical billing.” Such instances occur when a patient receives medical services and is unknowingly cared for by a clinician from outside of the patient’s insurance network. The predictable and understandable result is stress, anger, confusion, and despair.Local and national policymakers are correctly focusing attention on this issue. When surprise billing occurs, patients are unfairly put in the middle of a matter that should be resolved by their health plan and provider. Corrective actions are long overdue. (Maryanne C. Bombaugh, 12/9)
Surprise Medical Bills Often Follow Heart Attacks
The big picture: The new data underscore the importance of a legislative solution to help patients who are powerless to protect themselves. Details: People having surgery or receiving mental health and substance abuse treatment at an in-network hospital are the most likely to experience a surprise bill from an out-of-network provider. Among people with employer-based insurance, out-of-network charges were 50% higher among heart-attack victims than for other diagnoses. 21% of women undergoing mastectomies experienced out-of-network provider charges. My thought bubble: It’s hard to imagine many patients who are so prepared and insurance-savvy that they could protect themselves from an out-of-network bill in the middle of a heart attack. (Drew Altman, 12/9)
Now That You Have Insurance, How Do You Use It?
It’s that time of year — when we enroll in health insurance. Whether you are shopping for individual coverage or have coverage through your employer, there is a good chance you are comparing health plans and getting ready to make one of the biggest financial decisions of the year. (Dania Palanker, 12/9)
The New York Times:
Where The Frauds Are All Legal
Much of what we accept as legal in medical billing would be regarded as fraud in any other sector. I have been circling around this conclusion for this past five years, as I’ve listened to patients’ stories while covering health care as a journalist and author. Now, after a summer of firsthand experience — my husband was in a bike crash in July — it’s time to call out this fact head-on. Many of the Democratic candidates are talking about practical fixes for our high-priced health care system, and some legislated or regulated solutions to the maddening world of medical billing would be welcome. (Elisabeth Rosenthal, 12/7)
The Wall Street Journal:
Congress And The Spending Power
James Madison called Congress’s power of the purse “the most complete and effectual weapon” for restraining “the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government.” On Tuesday the Supreme Court will consider in Maine Community Health Options v. U.S. whether Congress can limit the spending discretion it has previously granted to the executive branch. Four health insurers have sued the government for not making payments they say they are entitled to under the Affordable Care Act’s “risk corridors.” (12/8)
Guideline To Stress-Free Open Enrollment Process
Millions of Americans are hunting for health insurance. The Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period ends in just two weeks. Consumers in more than three dozen states are running out of time to log onto HealthCare.gov to shop for coverage for the coming year. The process can be intimidating. Every policy offers a different mix of premiums, deductibles, benefits, and provider networks. (Janet Trautwein, 12/5)
Oregon Needs A Bold New Health Care Model
As a rural business owner, most people assume I am against a single-payer, government-run model. But I am not. I want a bold, new, affordable health care model that takes care of my employees, my business and my family. I know we can accomplish this. The State Accident Insurance Fund is but one example of an efficient and properly-run single payer system for workers compensation right here in Oregon. In July, I co-sponsored with Warren George, who is also a rural Oregon businessman, a poll of Oregon voters that determined most Oregonians feel the same way. According to the poll, conducted by Elway Research: 62% of us would likely support a new health tax to replace insurance and provide universal care. (Ron Loe, 12/8)
The Washington Post:
Medicaid Expansion Keeps Breaking Through In Red America. Next Stop: North Carolina?
Democrats recently notched big gubernatorial wins in deep red Louisiana and Kentucky, and they took full control of the Virginia state legislature — all of which were driven in no small part by bruising local debates over the Medicaid expansion. Now Democrats are hoping that this momentum for the Medicaid expansion, combined with the growing popularity of the proposal even in Republican territory, could finally produce a breakthrough that they’ve long coveted: in still-reddish North Carolina. (Greg Sargent, 12/6)