California Healthline Features Recent Editorial, Opinion Pieces on Health Care Cost Issues
California Healthline examines a recent editorial and several recent opinion pieces that address health care cost issues. Summaries of the editorial and opinion pieces appear below.
- Los Angeles Times: Universal health care "won't have a fleeting chance" until U.S. residents realize that workers striking over health care benefits, rising health insurance premiums and the difficulty of scheduling doctors' appointments are the "results of Washington's refusal to deal with comprehensive health care reform," a Times editorial states. For universal health care to succeed, people need to "start speaking as loudly as those 600 free-spending drug lobbyists," the editorial concludes (Los Angeles Times, 11/3).
- Daniel Akst, New York Times: "Nobody expects employers to provide groceries, housing or clothing, but for odd historical reasons American employers have evolved into providers of health insurance," Akst writes in his Times column called, "On the Contrary." According to Akst, the employer-sponsored health care system "seriously obscures who is paying what" for care and makes workers "think they are getting something for nothing." Akst concludes that ending employer-sponsored health coverage entirely would not stop the health "cost surge," but instituting a "properly designed universal system" with "[p]lenty of competition" and individual copayments could help (Akst, New York Times, 11/2).
- M. Gregg Bloche, Los Angeles Times: "Insurance markets will further unravel" if, as predicted, employers increasingly adopt cost-sharing health plans over the next few years because such plans would lead healthier employees to abandon the risk pool, which, in turn, would further raise premiums, Bloche, a professor of law and health policy at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities, writes in a Times opinion piece. However, "this ugly cycle can be prevented" by offering tax incentives to encourage employers to offer coverage and to minimize payroll deductions for premiums, Bloche writes (Bloche, Los Angeles Times, 11/2).
- Gary Payinda and Luisa Blue: Los Angeles Times: "Every Californian has a stake in the outcome" of the state's supermarket employee strikes over proposed increases in their contributions to their health care costs, Payinda, a resident physician in the emergency room at Los Angeles County-USC Hospital, and Blue, a registered nurse and president of the Service Employees International Union Nurse Alliance, write in a Times opinion piece. The supermarket chains are "pricing many of their current employees out of the health care coverage their families need," and new hires will be "forced to go without coverage because the employer would contribute so little," Payinda and Blue write. They add that if the supermarket chains "can get away with this," other employers will follow suit, and workers will be increasingly forced to receive care in "hospital emergency rooms and an ever-shrinking number of public clinics" (Payinda/Blue, Los Angeles Times, 11/1).
- Newark Star-Ledger: In a series of e-mail exchanges, Stephanie Woolhandler, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Kenneth Thorpe, chair of the department of health policy and management at the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, debate a universal health system. Woolhandler says that United States should adopt a single-payer model based on Canada's system, while Thorpe advocates that individuals purchase insurance through their communities, rather than through employers, and that lawmakers reform the delivery of health care (Woolhandler/Thorpe, Newark Star-Ledger, 11/2).