Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

May 18, 2009


Health Affairs abstract - One key issue in health reform concerns the relative roles of coverage offered through private insurance and public programs. This paper compares the experiences of aged Medicare beneficiaries with those of people under age sixty-five who have private employer coverage. Compared with the employer-coverage group, people in the Medicare group report fewer problems obtaining medical care, less financial hardship due to medical bills, and higher overall satisfaction with their coverage. Although access and bill payment problems increased across the board from 2001 to 2007, the gap between Medicare and private employer coverage widened.

Physicians for a National Healthcare Policy - Very few individuals, especially those already covered by Medicare, will be surprised by this study. . .
In contrast, policy makers and legislators in Washington are claiming that the employer-sponsored segment of the private insurance market is working quite well for us, and reform should include policies to expand this market. But this study isolated the employer-sponsored segment and compared it specifically with Medicare. No contest. Medicare is clearly superior to employer-sponsored plans. . .

An employer-sponsored plan is no longer affordable for average-income workers, and already is subsidized through the tax system. It is absolutely inevitable that additional taxpayer subsidies would be required to pay for private plans, whether through tax credits, tax deductions or vouchers. It is morally wrong to require taxpayers to subsidize inferior private health plans when they could be replaced with a superior, more efficient public insurance program - an expanded and improved Medicare for all.


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