FROM THE LEFT
Universal health care coverage is achievable
We stand alone among the industrialized nations of the world without a form of health care coverage for everyone. Why are we without coverage for all? The short answer is opposition from those that financially benefit from our for-profit health care system. The follow up question is should health care be a for profit system?
I am in a group fortunate to have health care coverage with Medicare. I wish everyone could have the freedom from worry about how to pay for needed medical services. It not only gives me the freedom from worry, but also family members that would be hard pressed to provide the needed medical care.
We have a large group of people with health care coverage from their employers who are pleased with coverage. The practice of employers paying the cost of health care insurance got a huge boost during WWII when wages were frozen. Companies could recruit workers by offering free health coverage in lieu of a wage increase.
The coverage provided by employers is partially paid for by the government because of the tax breaks employers receive for the premiums they pay for employee coverage.
If we provided universal health care for all, it would be a huge cultural change for our nation, probably the largest in our history. Can you picture a America with everyone having the freedom from worry about how to deal with a medical issue. What a relief it would be to hospitals that must provide care to those without insurance.
It would level the playing field for our companies that must compete with companies from nations that are not burdened with providing health care coverage to their employees.
There would a increase in small businesses started, because entrepreneurs would not have the burden of providing health care for their employees. The effect on workers would be huge, many stay on jobs, they do not like, only because of the health care coverage.
School districts would have huge savings if they were also relieved of this burden, along with the taxpayers. If a school district pays $5,000 a year for each employee for health care coverage, they now pay $5 million for every 1,000 employees. The same would apply to city governments, county governments and state governments.
The question then becomes how do we use part of this money to pay for universal health care coverage for all? The simple answer is all these government agencies pay a certain amount for every employee, which should be considerably less than they are now paying.
Every nation that provides universal health care has created their own unique system of taxation to pay for it. They use a combination of taxes on different products and services, co-pays and premiums.
In our nation we use our FICA taxes to finance our Medicare and Social Security programs, in which all workers and employers contribute. The rate for 2019 is 7.65 5% for both the employer and the employee. 6.2 % of the 7.65% is paid to the Social Security fund and 1.45 % to Medicare.
The maximum employers and employees will pay in FICA taxes in 2019 will be $8,240, because the taxes are collected only up to $132,900 of income.
There is no limit on the 1.45% Medicare tax employees pay. In fact, after $200,000 of income an additional 0.09% is added for a total tax of 1.54%. Employers do not contribute to Medicare tax after the $132,900 is reached. An increase in the tax levied after $200,000 in the Medicare care tax is a source for funding for Medicare for all.
Removing the cap on FICA taxes for Social Security, for the employee, or creating a sliding scale after the cap limit is reached is another possible source of funding a health care plan for all.
Another advantage of going to a system with universal coverage for everyone would be the collective power of negotiating lower prescription drug prices. There is a reason we have a drug store on every corner and it is not because of 2-for-1 sales. Our drug prices are out of line with the rest of the world.
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