Nav: Home

A viable alternative to Medicare-for-all? We can and must do better!

March 25, 2019

Philadelphia, March 25, 2019 - Medicare-for-all, a solution that would bring United States healthcare policies more in line with other industrial nations, faces strong opposition and is unlikely to be enacted in the foreseeable future. A commentary appearing in the American Journal of Medicine, published by Elsevier, proposes another approach that the authors believe would achieve wider access to care without triggering widespread opposition: a Medicare buy-in option for individuals under 65 years of age.

With the most expensive medical care in the world, shorter life expectancies, lower immunization rates, and higher infant and maternal mortality rates than other OECD nations, the US continues to be in the throes of a healthcare crisis. The authors of this commentary demonstrate a link between these poor outcomes and the fact that millions of Americans have limited or no access to ongoing medical care, due to the lack of health insurance even after the Affordable Care Act narrowed the gap.

"Americans without health insurance receive sub-optimal healthcare and do not live as long as those who are insured. They are less likely to have a usual source of healthcare, less likely to fill prescriptions, and more likely to postpone or go without care due to cost. Patients with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma, who lack a regular source of healthcare are at a greater risk of premature mortality than the insured. Medicare-for-all would solve most of these problems," noted Joseph S. Alpert, MD, Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA, and Editor-in-Chief, the American Journal of Medicine.

The authors attribute the fierce legislative and public opposition to Medicare-for-all to concerns about disruption of the healthcare industry, which is the nation's largest with more than 16 million jobs. With much at stake, interests like the health insurance business, pharmaceutical industry, and for-profit HMOs and hospitals have stoked unwarranted fears of expanded Medicare. The authors point to another solution that has been proposed, to expand Medicare by lowering the age of eligibility, but because it would require an increase in the Medicare tax rate, it is not likely to gain much popularity.

"A much better alternative is to allow Americans younger than 65 the option to buy into Medicare and pay a premium until they reach the age of eligibility. Many of America's 27 million uninsured would finally have access to lifesaving preventive care without increasing government costs," explained lead author James E. Dalen, MD, MPH, Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA. "A voluntary program would allow individuals to keep their employer-based and other private insurance. Without an unwanted mandate and increased government spending, we believe the proposal has a good chance of success and could pave the way to enact universal coverage in the US."

According to Dr. Dalen, "If the price were right to buy into Medicare, this option would likely be very popular. Companies that provide health insurance to their employees may find that Medicare provides better coverage for their employees at a lower cost and may want to opt in."
-end-


Elsevier

Related Health Insurance Articles:

Health insurance expansion linked to fewer sudden cardiac arrests
The incidence of sudden cardiac arrest, a sudden and usually deadly loss of heart function, declined significantly among previously uninsured adults who acquired health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also known as 'Obamacare,' according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Analysis indicates that insurance expansion improves access to care, health, and survival
There is strong evidence that expanding health insurance increases access to care, improves health in a variety of ways, and reduces mortality, according to Harvard T.H.
Generous health insurance plans encourage overtreatment, but may not improve health
Offering comprehensive health insurance plans with low deductibles and co-pay in exchange for higher annual premiums seems like a good value for the risk averse, and a profitable product for insurance companies.
Study shows health insurance plans too complicated to understand
A new survey by experts at the Health Disparities Institute of UConn Health shows that many patients across Connecticut are struggling to understand their complex, jargon-filled private health insurance plans and even to use their plan benefits correctly.
With health insurance at risk, community health centers face cut-backs
Repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, combined with a failure to renew critical funding streams, would result in catastrophic funding losses for community health centers-forcing these safety net providers to cut back on services, lay off staff or shut down clinical sites, according to a report published today.
Evaluating the benefits of health insurance on cancer care
A new Dartmouth study shows that patients have lower rates of cancer-specific survival based on where they live and their social determinants of health.
American College of Physicians praises blocked health insurance merger
The American College of Physicians (ACP) praises the ruling by a federal judge yesterday that blocked a proposed merger between health insurers Aetna and Humana.
More with mental illness and substance use disorders have health insurance
Significantly more people with mental illness and substance use disorders had insurance coverage in 2014 due to the expansion of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but many barriers to treatment remain, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.
'Cadillac tax' may precipitate changes to employer-provided health care insurance
Even if the Affordable Care Act is ultimately repealed, the law's so-called 'Cadillac tax' on high-cost health care plans has already affected employers' health insurance offerings, says Richard L.
Study links health literacy to higher levels of health insurance coverage
The federal Affordable Care Act is intended to make it easier for individuals to buy health insurance, but are the uninsured equipped to navigate the choices faced in the insurance marketplace?

Related Health Insurance Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...