Opinion: Risks and costs of Medicaid for All
Every fall Americans today can shop for health care coverage that fits their families needs. Families rely on health care coverage through employer-provided plans or other programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, among others made available through the Affordable Care Act. As we continue to think of ways to improve our health care system there has been a lot of discussion around what a government-controlled system such as Medicare for All would look like.
Americans want a health care system that provides better affordability, more quality, more options, and is accessible to all. Under a government-controlled health care system consumers will only have access to just one option for their families. Approximately 320 million Americans would have to trade in their current coverage for the single government-controlled plan. Rather than the cost of those plans premiums being supported by employers and programs such as Medicare the price tag would fall on the tax payers.
The Urban Institute estimated in May of 2016 that a government-controlled health care system would require an average increase of $24,000 per household for a total of $32 trillion over a decade. This could result in a need for continued and unlimited tax increases. The system we have needs improvement but the solution is not to start from scratch.
Under a government-controlled health care system the government is the only payer. As a result the political party in power would be able to set the prices they are willing to pay and limit the services they are willing to reimburse and dictate the bureaucratic rules for payment.
Most importantly what is missing is choice. Health care is not one size fits all and the insurance options that work for a family of four will not be the same as for a young entrepreneur or a couple nearing retirement. The role of the health insurance agent is to help individuals, families, and businesses chose the insurance that is the best for them. However, in order to do this there needs to be a robust and competitive health insurance market that allows for innovation and customization.
Medicaid for All is an unworkable an unrealistic policy solution. We should be looking at real-world solutions that can actually strengthen our nation’s health care system. We need to consider innovative solutions that build on our current health care system and strive to improve cost, quality, and access to health care services.
Keith Wright is president of the Michigan Association of Health Underwriters.