We have been arguing for a national health care program for decades, with resolve but still no resolution, and with both Democrats and Republicans in typical partisan gridlock. And from what I see, we will be squabbling over Medicare, Medicaid and health care for many years to come because each proposed program has been fraught with problems: too expensive, too much fraud, too little care. And as we continue to argue about what to do, health care costs are soaring at an alarming rate. I believe it is time for a government medical federal-level agency, with cabinet appointments – much like the Veterans Administration but expanded to include certain citizens – that will, at first, provide healthcare services for millions of eligible, low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities and replace the current insurance based programs with direct medical care. I’d call this proposed government program US Medicorp.
A pragmatic solution for national health care is to “do it ourselves.” I envision a government medical care “army” program that recruits young men and women from our high schools and colleges. They would study in medical schools, and in return for their tuition, room and board, they’d be required to serve six years of active service and two years of reserve service in the US Medical Corps. Their wage would depend on their years of service and type of work they undertake. These medical professionals – doctors, surgeons, nurses, medical technicians – would be placed all over the country in hospitals, in high-tech mobile medical units, in elder-care facilities, and in neighborhood clinics to provide much-needed medical care. Most importantly, under government protection, they would be exempt from malpractice lawsuits – another reform that must be addressed.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as “Obamacare,” was a step in the right direction toward national health care. But, in reality, it is national health insurance, instead of national health care, and it is too expensive because it places a huge insurance bureaucracy between the patient and the caregiver with little or no improvement in health care. This is not a surprise considering the intense lobbying by the insurance industry https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?indexType=i&showYear=2017
). Hence, the ACA relies heavily on insurance companies, which are now complaining of losses and are pulling out state insurance markets, or they are raising rates. This is wrong.
A single-payer insurance program sounds better but it too will be plagued by high costs, fraud, and abuse that third-party payer systems bring upon themselves. The problem is that the patient is not paying and is not concerned with the costs for treatment, and the care-giver, because treatment costs will be mandated by the third-party payer (insurance), can raise or inflate the cost, or even worse charge for more services that are not needed. Look at the billions of dollars wasted on fraud and the costs associated with finding, and rooting out, these criminals. A recent AARP article reported $60 billion in Medicare fraud per year! Hence, health insurance companies do not work if this is the sole method we are relying upon to provide health care, not to mention improving the overall health of our country. Third-party payer programs are not cost effective.
Who would be covered in this proposed Medicorp?
- All children up to the age of 26, which is the physically healthiest segment of our population
- Those who are unable to care for themselves will receive coverage, including the cognitively and physically disabled
- All people over age 65 or 66 and the elderly who have no other means of support aside from Social Security. (This entry age may be raised if the person working.)
- All people who fall under the poverty level
The rest of the population would rely on traditional health care and be covered by private insurances. This coverage would be provided under their business and union plans, which we need to encourage. Insurance companies will be providing plans for working people, who work for large and medium-size businesses, and unions that can pool thousands of individuals for insurance. Businesses, especially large employers, that are paying below a living wage or reduced hours to avoid providing insurance plans, need to be taxed to cover to cost of their employees using the Medicorp program.
Insurance companies, if left alone and not forced to insure those who cannot pay for the private coverage, will return to profitability without depending on government bailouts or assistance. We do not need to support private industry or force private industry into programs that are doomed to fail.
I do not believe we – as a nation – are ready and willing to have universal health care (socialized medicine), or a one-payer system. Nor do I think these would be our best options at this time. I do, however, believe we need to begin a Medical Corps along with single-payer programs working together with our current private health care. It is time to propose a National Medical Care Organization, US Medical Corp. The United States must embrace the best of each system and we would have the best medical care in the world.