Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Walker now supports "Self-Insurance" (single payer) system for state employees. The Irony.

Self-insurance among large corporations is pretty much standard practice. The whole point of self-insurance is to avoid the expensive insurance company fees built into their premiums. That’s right, insurance companies charge more so they can make a profit.

That’s why Republicans want a free market system, so insurers can make a profit off the sick. That's why they hate a single payer plan, there's no middle man. 

But now Scott Walker is behind a public employee single payer system of self-insurance. Hey, that’s what it really is (except it's way too small to make a real difference):
WSJ: The Walker administration is considering switching 236,000 state employees and family members from a competitive HMO model, in place since 1984, to a self-insured program … Self-insuring, paying benefits directly and assuming the risk, instead of buying insurance, can save money while maintaining strong benefits, an organization of self-insured employers said. Walker tweeted: “Good meetings in the Capitol about how to provide quality and affordable health care to state employees.”
Walker is talking about what is essentially a single payer system for state employees. Hardly as cost effective as a national plan, but that’s the idea. This isn't an endorsement of Walker’s plan by any stretch, but I am seeing an incredible irony in everything Walker is saying:
Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, said self-insuring could eliminate the competitive pressure that keeps prices and premiums low in south central Wisconsin.
Sen. Miller must think the cost of a family plan at $21,600 is a “competitive/low” price. Not me. The current "competitive market" isn't that at all. A family plan in the competitive Affordable Care Act’s marketplace is around $10,000 (based on an income of $50,000, not including deductibles and co-pays). That's a big savings.

Even more ironic is how fast Walker turned his back on private insurers, the ones backing a Paul Ryan plan pushing free market solutions that would allow citizens to buy insurance across state lines. 

Insures here are now singing the blues over Walker’s idea:
Linda Hoff, president and CEO of Physicians Plus — one of six insurers in the Madison area that cover many state employees, said the shift could threaten some of the companies’ viability. “It’s a big blow to all of us. I don’t know if there’s a way to go down that path and preserve the provider-owned HMOs.”
That's what a single payer system would do. There would still be a place for some insurers, but in a more specialized way. 

Walker also deep sixes the Republican notion that any plan getting their stamp of approval must allow Americans to keep their current doctor.
Self-insurance could force some workers to find new doctors and pay a higher proportion of their medical bills … self-insurance would increase the state’s health costs by $200 million, disrupt patient-provider relationships, create instability in the Medicaid program, increase financial risk to the state and result in the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs.
Funny isn't it, the same arguments we heard over ObamaCare? That would also mean some conservative employees would have to put their money into a big pot, where someone else could take that cash and use it for their own medical treatment. Ouch, that’s socialism.

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