Sunday, August 16, 2009

Public Option - a state perspective

With all the talk about a federal “public option” for health insurance, I thought I should give a state government perspective.

We already have a public option and it’s going broke. Medicaid and SCHP are effectively publicly paid health insurance programs for people in Colorado. The federal actuaries tell us that Medicaid will be out of money by 2016. I have news for them; they are already out of money. The feds have a $1.3 trillion deficit and it’s growing.

Medicaid serves, for the most part, the poorest people in Colorado or those that can manage to prove themselves “poor”. You have to find a way to get rid of or hide assets and show income of less than $30,000 for a family of four to qualify for Medicaid for your kids. That same family of four can put their kids on SCHIP, the State Children’s basic Health insurance Program if they make less than $55,000 per year.

In most cases, if you are in, you get to go to the same doctor and you pay a co-pay for an office visit of no more that $3 for Medicaid and no more than $5 for SCHP. Compare that to the full rate we pay for our kids with our high deductible plan and the $30 you’d pay if you were a member of Kaiser, for instance.

There is no premium to pay to be in Medicaid and the annual premium for that family of four in SCHP is $35. That’s annual as in 35 bucks a year!

My insurance costs $1150 a month! I pay $280, my employer (State of Colorado) the rest. The Kaiser plan is $1250.

It’s a wonder that anyone would add their kids to their health insurance plan if they make less than 2.5 times the federal poverty level. As a matter of fact, many people don’t. Almost a quarter of all kids in Colorado are on Medicaid and another 6.6% are in SCHP.

I’d save $30 per month if I dropped the kids off the insurance plan we have and went to SCHP in premium alone and another $300 per month in out of pocket expenses. We qualify but we don’t join; I’m opposed to government run health care, but I wonder how long we can hold out?

Is it any wonder that health care expenses are gobbling up a huge and growing share of Colorado’s budget? How long can we afford to have a system in place that encourages people to seek practically free health insurance and care over a really expensive private system? What happens when everyone who could do so enrolls?
I know the answers. If you are giving things away for free, it doesn’t matter what you are giving away, whether health care or chocolate chip cookies, eventually you run out of supply. Then, you have a real problem.

1 comment:

  1. As you might imagine this is a push button issue on my blog, as well as across the internet.

    Reimbursement from Medicaid and Medicare is abysmal to say the least. Not to mention what lousy coverage both provide.

    When Broomfield Ambulance went under one of the main contributing factors was the low payments for services paid by Medicare and Medicaid.

    And people are clamoring for these sorts of programs for everyone..? Take a look at all the problems with the VA system for a snapshot of what a government run health care system would be like. Not to mention the costs involved.