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Single-payer system is how health care should be handled | Letters To Editor

Single-payer system is how health care should be handled | Letters To Editor | grandrapidsmn.com




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I have had good health care for my 67 years; it all started in a U.S. Army hospital in Washington state where my father was stationed. My father was career Air Force so I had medical care provided at U.S. Air Force clinics for my first 15 years. Then it was CHAMPUS a program that was provided to retirees and their dependents. Then I joined the Air Force and got medical and dental and optometric care from the U.S. Air Force. During my four-year enlistment both of my daughters were born; the first in a huge Air Force medical center in Biloxi, Mississippi; the second here in Grand Rapids with military benefits covering the medical bills. Government provided health care.

After my military service I got a job at the paper mill where the Union (Independent Union of Papermill Workers) and the mill management had negotiated health care for employees. Single employees were covered for free; under a family plan the employee was responsible for 20 percent of the premium. It was good coverage with almost all cost covered; overtime that changed with different limitations and co-pays being added. Those were added to keep costs down especially for the company who covered 80 percent of the health care costs.

The mill was self-insured which means that they collected the premiums and paid the medical bills as they came in. Blandin had contracted with Blue Cross to take care of the paperwork so Blue Cross took a percentage to deal with the health care providers. From time to time the balance sheet would go negative for long enough that premiums would go up which happened almost every year it seemed. By the time I retired family coverage was approaching $13,000 per year still my part at 20 percent was still a bargain.

Essentially the way the system worked was that this pool of employees, hourly and salaried, paid into the system, when you needed health care the payment came out of this pool that all employees had contributed to. As a group, Blandin employees had social contact to help take care of each other, the healthy taking care of those who were ill and needed care. On a small scale it was a single payer system where the group provided for those in need.

Now I have Medicare plus supplemental coverage to cover whatever my needs may be. So far I haven’t needed much but that may change, as I get older. Medicare is another example of single payer system with a much larger group where the payer is the United States government. Canada and the United Kingdom have national single payer systems which provide excellent care at a lower cost than the for profit medical system that has developed in the United States. Americans as a group should take a serious look at the pros and cons of single payer, I think an honest look would reveal that single payer system is how health care should be handled.

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