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Out and About: Medicare Plan E

We attended TR Reid, 7 February 2014, presentation at the City Club in which he talked about America’s love affair with being morally wonderful, and concurrent inability to provide healthcare to those who cannot afford it. Oh, and he just published a book on the topic called, The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.

Mr. Reid just came from Cleveland’s sister city Bratislava where Ambassador Tod Sedgwick, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, insisted on having Cleveland School artists featured in the ambassador's residence.

Reid, who’s “just an ink-stained reporter” for several decades, readily admits he’s no medical expert. But he is a person who studies an issue for some time, and then writes about what he finds.

In this most recent project, he found that the countries of the world adhere to four models of medical program:

The Beveridge Model: used by the UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia, and features universal healthcare provided through taxes, with no fees.

The Bizmarck Model: used by Germany, Japan, France, Belgium and Switzerland, and features private insurance, employer-based insurance, premiums, no cancellation or denials, and prompt payment.

Otto von Bizmarck, among his other historical achievements, decided in 1883 that universal healthcare was “applied Christianity.” Today Germany pays all bills in three days.

National Health Insurance Model: used by Canada, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, and features the government as payer with private providers.  He said the stories of medical queues in Canada are true, and so there are some aspects of this program that would be problematic.

The Out of Pocket Model: used by the rest of the world, and features “if you have the money, you can have healthcare.”  One doctor in Tibet says he eats a lot of potatoes – because that’s how his clients can afford to “pay” him.

The first three models are fair and the last not at all fair.  The USA has a mixture of the three.

Reid took two yrs to figure out the four models by travelling to many countries.  He said 19 million Americans in the US government, including the armed services, enjoy socialized medicine now. The aged enjoy Medicare, which is the Canadian system. The 152 million Americans on private insurance enjoy the Bizmarck Model. And 42 million in the US “enjoy” the Out of Pocket Model.

25,000 Americans die each year for lack of proper healthcare.

Reid said if we thought US healthcare was complicated before, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, made it far more complicated.

Asked how the US can improve healthcare, he said unfortunately the US resists changing the status quo because there are more than 1,000 companies making more than a billion each in the current system.

Switzerland got to the point of five percent of their population without healthcare, and decided to draw the line there.  The US currently has sixteen percent of its population uncovered.

One radio commentator, a regional Rush Limbaugh,  gave Reid hearty congratulations off the air, but as soon as the red light went on, he completely went into character, lambasting Reid for wanting to “mess up the system just to cover the fifteen percent who need it.”

Reid responded that in Selma, Alabama, eighty-five percent of the population could ride in the front of the bus.

Asked if he had the power, what type of medical program would he install.

Reid said Medicare has four plans: A, B, C and D.  He said he could create a fifth program called E – which would cover everyone else.

He said, we have public schools, but we don’t pay for kids to attend Exeter.  We could do the same, and restrict some things like dialysis for 95 year olds.

Out & Aboutimwong