Oregon Health Care - AFTER
Your Coffee Break
appeared in the paper version only of Portland Alliance
Author: Samuel Metz
Here are two facts to disturb
your coffee break.
1. Oregonians already pay
enough in health insurance premiums to provide every
Oregonian with comprehensive, no deductible, no co-pay,
all medications included health care.
2. We aren't getting it.
Where's the disconnect?
It's not the usual suspects:
undocumented immigrants, medical malpractice, insurance
fraud, government waste, or fee-for-service reimbursement.
The answer is that private health insurance is the most
inefficient method of financing health care known to man.
Any health care financing
agency must keep administrative costs low. Single payer
agencies like Medicare and the VA are under 4%. Private
single payer agencies like Taft-Hartley multiemployer
heath plans are less than that.
The private health insurance
industry, sacred cow of Democrats and Republicans alike,
produces a 40% administrative loss. This is not a
misprint. Private health insurance financing is ten -
repeat - ten times more costly than all known single payer
Grip your coffee cup for the
obvious question. How on earth can this happen? First,
private health insurance companies keep 20% for lobbying,
marketing, and profit plus salaries and benefits of
Of the 80% passed on to
health care providers, another 20% is spent by providers
to collect money owed them by insurance companies in the
first place. After all, this industry denies 30% of all
claims, not because they are bad people, but because
denying claims is good business.
This staggering 40%
administrative loss totals $4 billion in Oregon. How much
additional money do we need to pay for comprehensive care
for every Oregonian? Less than that, $3.5 billion. Clearly
if we finance this with private health insurance,
Oregonians must cough up another $3.5 billion in premiums,
taxes, and out of pocket expenses. If we use single payer
financing, the money is already there.
So there you are, with your
coffee cup frozen an inch from your lips, realizing the
solution to our health care crisis is so simple: single
payer health care. And it has arrived in Oregon. Yes, the
Oregon House is considering health care legislation as we
speak, HB 3510 submitted by Michael Dembrow, and Senate SB
888 submitted by Chip Shields.
You are not the only one who
should know about this legislation; your legislators
should as well. Write, call, E-mail, or corner your
legislators. Tell them single payer health care is
important and they should learn why. Do not let this
historic opportunity pass.
But finish your coffee first.