A recent Kaiser foundation study found that the U.S. Spends More Than Twice as Much on Health Care Per Person Than Most Other Industrialized Nations, Ranks Last in Preventable Mortality.
(KAISER DAILY HEALTH POLICY REPORT for Thursday, July 17, 2008)
A former legislator once summed our current health care system up as a Gordian knot of paper trails trying to determine who pays. If you have insurance and you or your employer pay for health insurance paycheck to paycheck you may feel confident you know who is going to pay. But the reality is you don’t. That is once you get sick or injured you don’t. As soon as the insurance company receives the bill they may start looking to see how they can avoid being stuck with the payment. They may choose to identify if the injury is work related and should be paid by workmen’s comp or when there’s the urge to start a claim for an Orlando automotive accident case. They may try to determine if the health care provider is over charging or did not follow the strict rules on prescribing treatment or went out of network.
Vast amounts of time and money are spent sorting this out and in most cases it is paid for by money that should have gone to provide you access to health care. The same process happens for those who don’t have insurance and don’t have the assets to pay.
A year ago I formed a legislative caucus to educate myself and others on this issue and to come up with some solutions to the problem. The primary focus of our group is to promote something called the Minnesota Health Plan. You can read about the plan on a website by clicking here or on the name.
The plan is supported by research done by the Lewin Group, a subsidiary of United Health (so a group not necessarily friendly to the plan). They did a study of various Universal coverage health proposals in Colorado and the only one that saved money, and a substantial amount was a plan very similar to the Minnesota Health Plan.
What does the plan do? First of all it says that all Minnesotans should have access to health care. Because one never knows when tragedy, disease, an accident can strike and we believe that no one should go bankrupt because of an unforeseen illness or injury.
Secondly, it says that all Minnesotans should pay in based on their ability to pay and for that buy in all should have the same comprehensive coverage (including, mental health, dental and eye exams). We would have one plan, one insurer and the freedom to choose your provider without co-pays or deductibles. These payments or premiums would go to the Minnesota Health Fund, which would be shielded from the State budget and could not be raided to pay for other things. The fund and the system would be over seen by a board of regional stake holders in the system.
Finally, we believe every Minnesotan should be able to choose the health care provider of their choice. Contrary to statements by the opposition this plan is not socialized medicine or government run health care. All the health care providers continue to function much the way they do now accept that the regional board would have some regulatory power to prevent some duplication, fraud and greed in the system.
How does it save money? Savings come from eliminating expensive bureaucracy caused by the use of private insurance plans. Doctors and clinics will deal with one simple form and one provider. We will eliminate worry and expense over who pays. There would be no need for workers compensation, or the medical part of auto insurance because there is no dispute about who pays. This is a system similar to Medicare and reports show that the administrative costs of Medicare are from 2% to 4% of total cost where private insurers admit that their administrative costs are anywhere from 18% to 40%.
Now some folks worry about reimbursement for services because Medicare does not fully reimburse and we would need to assure providers that the Minnesota Health Plan could reimburse at a reasonable rate.
I am sure I have not answered all of your questions about this important plan but you can visit the website and contact me, Sen. John Marty, Sen. Sharon Ropes, Rep. Shelley Madore, Rep. Carolyn Laine, Rep. Ken Tschumper, Rep. Tina Liebling for more details.