Thursday, July 07, 2005

Parkhurst on Health Insurance

Stimulated by the June 13, 2005 editorial on the subject of health insurance by New York Times columnist and single payer advocate Paul Krugman, health care consultant Ed Parkhurst weighs in with the following:

“I personally believe reform is best looked at in the following context........we should have a single payer system with a reasonable number of benefit plans thereby simplifying their administration, reducing administrative costs over that which is expended now, and then reinvesting administrative cost savings in care delivery. Private insurance companies could bid to administer with caps on administrative costs. I don't favor a single universal benefit package. Medicaid should be a national program for the disadvantaged with a basic benefit package funded by the States and the Feds on some type of formula basis. Medicare should be funded by both the Feds (not necessarily through SSA, which was set up for retirement and not medical benefits) and the beneficiaries on some type of a "means tested" basis which recognizes the disposable income in the elderly. There also may be "gaps" that have to be selectively filled. As to Medical Savings Accounts, I think them bad public policy in that care may be avoided thereby increasing morbidity and chronic conditions, over time. We need a delivery model that embraces first $ coverage, but not necessarily for physicians...physician extenders could enhance access and reduce costs overall.....consumer education programs to reduce unnecessary demands for care are necessary. Most don't know how to use the system wisely and we need to eliminate proprietary drug advertising which encourages over utilization and lower use of generics.”

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