You can buy a $100 coin commemorating President Trump surviving COVID-19 are available for preorder on the White House Gift Shop website.
The year 2020 has highlighted the value of safety nets on so many fronts, particularly fire insurance and health insurance.
My neighbors received non-renewal letters for their fire insurance and will now be paying two to three times what they paid before, using a combination of the FAIR (government) Plan and their private insurance. Where would we be without that government safety net? Their insurance plans paid well when they needed them, but decided they could no longer take the risk and make a profit. A capitalist society allows that option.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a comprehensive plan to provide universal coverage to the citizens of the wealthiest nation in the world, without losing the private insurance market. If one is able to put aside personal bias to look at the overall picture, we find that — while not perfect, the results have been quite positive.
Prior to the ACA, the equivalent FAIR plan for health insurance was the Major Risk Pool that provided very limited coverage at a very high price. Insurers have historically been able to accept or reject you — as we used to joke, a waiver for skin and all its contents.
One critical component of the ACA is Medicaid expansion to the poor, or Medi-Cal in California. The California Health Care Foundation recently released a report that demonstrates the success of this program. It’s often overlooked that those workers we have now acknowledged as “essential” are those that make the lowest wages and have the greatest risks.
Families who are distance learning with their children will be especially affected by the story of Kevion, who works two jobs as a teachers’ aide and UPS worker.
One recipient summarized it this way, “People need to realize just because we are on Medi-Cal doesn’t mean we are not working. We are hard workers, we just cannot afford the health care system.”
Most of these folks are working hard to try to get ahead, often working two or three jobs, none of which provide coverage.
In 2018, 42% of Californians said they believed that most non-disabled adults enrolled in Medi-Cal are unemployed, while another 20% said they didn’t know. Key findings as reported in the California Health Care Foundation are very telling, especially for those of us in the North State:
- 64% of working-age, nondisabled Californians who are enrolled in Medi-Cal are employed either full or part time.
- Almost three million working Californians are covered by Medi-Cal, or approximately 16% of all working Californians ages 19 to 64.
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining are industries with the highest percentage of workers enrolled in Medi-Cal: 32%. This is followed by restaurants and food service at 31%; and others such as auto mechanics and hair salons at 27%.
Access to medical care in the North State is limited at best.
Without the Shasta Community Health Center (SCHC) — of which I am a board member — and Hill Country Clinic, our area would suffer even more. But for those entities to operate they need to be funded.
Yes, the ACA also included a lot of additional taxes to fund this and the subsidies received by those that qualify.
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This is starkly different from the Medicare Part D Rx plan implemented in 2006, which had no additional funding. “Tax and spend” is quite different from the concept of just spending without paying for it, putting it on the credit card if you will.
Since 2016, I have been anxiously awaiting the great new health plan that was supposed to replace the ACA. I assumed with a Republican senate and president, it would be well on its way by now. But to date, the main emphasis is slowly eviscerating the ACA, while signing largely symbolic executive orders.
Insurance is about handling risk. Health care (financing and delivery) is just one issue that must be evaluated in the next election.
I don’t presume our readers are single-issue voters, or that health care is the only issue affecting your decisions. However, since it’s responsible for almost one fifth of our economy, it’s an economic issue as well.
In the words of our current president, “Who knew health care was so complicated?”
In my next column I will try to summarize the proposals of the two candidates and provide insight into the possible results, all in 800 words. Hopefully it will be in time for readers to incorporate it into their decision-making process.
In advance of making these decisions, I would like to direct readers to the PBS series, “Hacking Your Mind”, which provides new information about how we make decisions. Watch all four episodes and start from the beginning. Hopefully it will help us all to slow down and take a more thoughtful approach to our actions.
Margaret Beck has been a licensed insurance broker since 1978. Call her at 225-8583.
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