Photo by Marc Nozell

We are in the beginnings of an election year in the United States and the first primary votes to determine the Democratic nominee will be cast in the coming weeks. Healthcare costs remain a top concern for voters, and candidates have developed varying proposals to improve healthcare, reform the current system, and reduce healthcare costs in the U.S.

Independent Senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders has long championed the ideal of single payer healthcare, often referred to as Medicare for All in the U.S. In a single payer system, the federal government fully covers every service and procedure, including dental, vision, long-term care and abortion, with no out-of-pocket charge to patients. Bernie Sanders has often claimed Medicare for All is the only way to address deeper problems in the United States healthcare system, from medical bankruptcies to high maternal mortality rates, especially among poor and minority women. Senator Sanders has proposed allowing importing medication from abroad at

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Congress has allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which insures 9 million children in the United States, to expire. The program provided coverage for children in families making under 200% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) as well as to pregnant women. CHIP played a huge part in decreasing the rate of uninsured children from 14% in 1997 to 4.5% in 2015. By taking no action to renew the program before September 30, 2017 the U.S. Congress allowed the program to lose future funding, putting millions of American children at risk of major health complications from ordinarily treatable conditions.

CHIP covers comprehensive coverage for children, including routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, laboratory and x-ray services, and emergency services. The out-of-pocket costs are different depending on which state a family is living in, but they will not exceed 5% of a family’s annual income. For the

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by Richard Sagall, M.D.

Insurance is really a simple concept. But few people, and even fewer politicians, seem to understand how insurance works and why so many of the promises we hear are impossible.

Here are the basic concepts of insurance:

Number 1 – You Never Win with Insurance – You always lose with insurance. Think about what happens when you have health insurance.

Outcome 1 – You get sick, perhaps really sick, and you suffer while ill. You may experience long-term or even permanent disability from your illness. Or, in the worst case, you die. Your health insurance helps with the cost, but in any case, you suffer.

Outcome 2 – You spend a lot of money on premiums getting nothing in return. It’s true that you remain physically healthy, but, due to the high cost of health insurance, you may not be so financially healthy. So, you also suffer, just in a different way.

Number 2 – What You Really Get from Insurance – Or perhaps more accurately, what you should be getting from health insurance. What you are paying for with health insurance is a sense of comfort that you won’t

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We have been tracking the new healthcare bill being proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). After passing the House last month, the bill was sent to the United States Senate where it was redrafted into the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which they are planning on holding the vote for after the July 4th recess. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released their analysis report on the BCRA’s impact on the Federal deficit and American’s premiums and insurance status.

Previous CBO scores for Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal/replace bills have shown millions of Americans would lose health insurance while premiums rise for several years before falling, primarily for the healthiest and youngest Americans while older people and those with pre-existing conditions could see much higher healthcare costs. The analysis of the most recent bill concurs that 49 million Americans under 65 years old would be without

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This past Tuesday, two U.S. senators and former presidential candidates participated in a televised debate with American health care and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as the topic. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) engaged in a town hall style debate primarily on whether the ACA should be repealed and what could replace it.

The healthcare law often called Obamacare has been the focus of controversy since its implementation in 2010. The Affordable Care Act was designed to lower the uninsured rate and expand insurance coverage with the ultimate goal of reducing the cost of health care. It removed barriers for many Americans with pre-existing conditions and other underserved communities’ access to health insurance. It faced strong opposition by the GOP, saying it would instead increase healthcare costs and disrupt the current insurance markets. The Republican-majority House of Representatives went so far as to vote over 60 times to repeal the law; none of the attempts were successful.

Senator Sanders’

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