San Francisco Chronicle Opinion Pieces Consider Universal Health Coverage Proposals
The San Francisco Chronicle on Friday featured two opinion pieces that look at options to achieve universal health care. Summaries appear below.
- Bruce Bodaken: It is "time to consider an even bolder plan" than what President Bush or some of the Democratic presidential candidates have proposed -- one that would achieve "universal coverage based on universal responsibility, providing basic care to every American while spreading the cost broadly among businesses and individuals who can afford to pay," Bodaken, chair, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California, writes. Bodaken suggests offering health coverage for preventive care, physician and hospital services and prescription drugs; requiring employers to offer workers health coverage or pay for them to participate in an insurance pool; giving subsidies to businesses and individuals based on their ability to pay for health insurance; and enrolling every eligible person in public health programs. He adds that any health care plan must include provisions to address rising health care costs. "If everyone is insured, cost-shifting ends and rates stabilize for those already covered. Requiring all businesses and individuals to contribute relieves the burden on businesses that provide coverage from subsidizing their competitors that don't," Bodaken writes (Bodaken, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/30).
- Gary Schouborg/Michael Booth: There is an "obvious alternative" to achieving universal health care either through employer-provided or government-provided insurance: "We each buy our own insurance," Schouborg, principal of Performance Consulting, and Booth, principal of GBA Capital Group, write. They write that the federal government should "support a phase-in period (10 years or so) when employers gradually phase out health insurance benefits while insurance companies gear up accordingly" for an individual policy-based market. The federal government should allow individuals to deduct health care premiums and other costs from their taxes, they add. Under such a system, "[e]very insurance company in the United States would immediately have to compete for individual business, and we'd buy health insurance the same way we buy auto, life and home insurance -- individually, by getting quotes for various policies, purchasing only the insurance we need," Schouborg and Booth say. They conclude, "In this manner, we would be as a nation more careful about running to the doctor for every hiccup and hangnail. ... Employees and voters would regain the moral dignity and clarity of controlling their health care destiny" (Schouborg/Booth, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/30).