It really didn't take much time for me to come up with what I see as a compromise solution to the healthcare crisis that doesn't involve a lot of complex new arrangements, seems to satisfy some of everybody's wishes and gets us moving forward with solving the other crushing problems facing this country.
I'm sure there's plenty I haven't thought about, and a physician caller to Mark Thompson's Making It Plain this afternoon makes me think there's some doubt such a thing would work. Then again, it may just be pure genius...it even lends itself well to easy marketing.
Medicare, the Public Option We Know.
There is the idea of making available Medicare to all Americans, regardless of age. I think that is a fine idea, but I've never been convinced that creating a truly nationalized, single-payer healthcare system ought to be the goal. I see a market for private insurance, because, let's face it, some people have to have it better than other people.
But in our current context, let's do a couple of things.
- Leave private insurance the hell alone. Let them figure out how they fit in after the second change.
- Simply let the public option be that we allow individuals of any age to buy into Medicare if they can't get private insurance or even if they'd like to do it for reasons of moral disdain for private insurers.
Droves of young, relatively healthy adults, college students, graduate students, waitresses and assorted shitworkers would swell the ranks and the coffers of Medicare, a system they'll all end up on eventually if they live long enough anyway. Their payments as young healthy people will help save Medicare from bankruptcy as our increasingly older population drains it. Two birds, one stone.
Allow people to keep whatever they have now, but mandate that people do one or the other. Nothing would really stop people from doing both, to obtain supplemental care or new breasts or whatever.
I'm not a details guy, but it seems to me that something like this wouldn't require more than about 20 pages of 8.5x11 white paper to work out. We already have a struggling Medicare system struggling to stay alive, we have throngs of young people who'd love to pay, maybe even a little more than they do now, to be on Medicare and not have to sweat getting sick, getting in a car accident, etc.
Preventative medicine and public health situations improve overnight, Medicare has millions of new people paying in, and reimbursements to doctors could become more respectable. Private insurance is still there to try to compete and make a profit. Grease the skids here if we must...throw them some kind of corporate bone the government loves so much.
Instead of trying to come up with crazy regional co-ops, an all-new agency or some such, just let Medicare become the public option when the politicians speak of it. The Republicans already love them some Medicare, and this would be a good opportunity for them to save face by helping "to save it."
Seems pretty straightforward to me.
How about you? Medicare, the Public Option We Have, the Public Option We Know.