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A solution to national health care: Put everyone in the same 'risk pool'

Reader opinion

Reader opinion

December 20, 2008

To the editor:

For many years, politicians from all parties have demagogued the issue of affordable universal health care for all Americans to death.

Every election cycle we hear grand plans and even grander promises about how we are going to "fix" the health care system, and after every election cycle the issue of health care for Americans quietly disappears while we pursue the usual pet pork projects of our elected officials.

Health care is a problem that can be fixed very simply. The reason that we have not "fixed" the problem of health care is because those people who profess to want fix the problem continue to look for complex fixes for a very simple problem. Let me tell you how we can fix our health care system this year.

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First, let me ask everyone a question. If you buy a car, a boat, or a house today, where do you go for insurance? Do you go to your employer? I think not. You go directly to the private insurance industry and shop for a good deal on your insurance. You do not need to be a part of any small group of people to buy the insurance that you need for these purchases. Why then do you need to go to your employer for your health insurance?

The reason that we all go to our employers for health insurance is because back in the 1930s, when the first health plans were being rolled out, those that designed these plans chose to market them through employers rather than directly to individuals and unfortunately we have never gotten away from this model.

The problem with the current model is that it is comprised of a large number of small groups. Each group is what is known as a "risk pool," and the premium that you pay is largely determined by the average health and the size of your group. The smaller your group, the more likely it is that during any given year someone within your group will have some very expensive health issues that everyone within the group must pay for.

If you are part of a larger group, the risks are spread around more and it is more likely that your premium will be less.

Either way, if you are not a part of some group, you will find it very difficult and expensive to obtain individual private health insurance, and if you have any pre-existing conditions they will not be covered.

Now here is how we fix health care in America. We need to put all 300 million Americans in one "risk pool" and have that pool covered by one private payer.

The payer could vary from year to year, based on annual bidding for the health care business, but we must get all Americans into one pool of risk so that we can bring down the health-care costs for everyone.

If we established this pool, I am certain that not only would everyone have health insurance, but the cost to everyone would be very much less than we currently pay due to the size of the "risk pool."

By putting all the young and healthy people in the same group as those that are older and less healthy we create a model that insures that everyone on average will pay a much lower premium than is possible in small groups.

Furthermore, I would require everyone to join this plan.

It is my proposal that this plan replace not only all existing private plans but that it also replace our current Medicare and Medicaid systems, as well as our current prison health care systems.

Every single American should be required to be a part of this plan. If there are those who cannot afford the full premium or even part of the premium, we as a society would be much better off to pay it for them and keep them in good health.

A policy of good health for all Americans would make for a much more productive work force and our small investment in health would pay big dividends in the life time earnings of everyone. By the way, I would include prescription and dental coverage in my plan.

I know that many of you that have read this article believe that I am wrong. If you are among those, I would encourage you to do the math.

Add all that we spend as employers, individuals and governments for all of the health care that we provide in this country and then add to it all of the lost productivity and shortened careers and lifespans that are caused by people not receiving routine medical care.

Then you will see that my plan will not only give every American good affordable health care, it will do so at a savings of billions of dollars.

My plan will work, my plan will deliver high-quality health care to all Americans, and my health plan will save money. We as citizens must demand that our leaders provide us with universal, high- quality health care now.

Rod Pearson Sr.

Keedysville

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