Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why should we have to be 65 to have access to public healthcare?

Americans should not have to turn 65 years old or become disabled to have access to a public healthcare program that controls overhead costs, provides broad, affordable access to care and protects patients against big bills. President Obama should open Medicare to all Americans who lose their jobs, cannot afford private health insurance or simply prefer it to private insurance or an HMO.

Part of the promise of Obama-care is that patients would be able to join a "public" healthcare plan, with or without subsidy, if they don't have a private policy. Descriptions have been vague. Obama sometimes mentioned the federal employee health benefits plan, which is merely a collection of private insurance policies. By almost every measure, Medicare is cheaper and more effective than private plans, according to government and academic research. Medicare spends 2% on overhead; private insurers typically spend 25% to 27% for overhead and profit.
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