Happy 48th Anniversary, Medicare! Improve and expand it for the rest of us

by Just Health Care, Alachua County Labor Party

On July 30, 1965, the U.S. passed Medicare, which guarantees access to health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older and younger people with disabilities. Join us in celebrating Medicare’s 48th anniversary with birthday cake on Wednesday, July 31, at the downtown farmer’s market from 4 to 7 p.m.

The Affordable Care Act, “Obamacare,” is supposed to take care of our medical needs. Since it is administered through a multitude of insurance companies, the premiums we pay have to support salaries and profits and advertising costs, while physicians and other providers need to hire special staff to deal with the paperwork required by each insurance company. The result is that administrative costs are over 30 percent.

The major provisions of the ACA are due to take effect in January 2014, almost four years after the legislation was signed in March 2010, but problems are emerging. The Health Care Exchanges to be established for those without other insurance are so complicated that people are being enrolled to explain them. Employers of more than 50 people who are not already providing health insurance benefits have been granted an extra year to work out how to do it.

The ACA did bring some good things. It prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and from applying lifetime or annual caps on payments for treatment. It prescribed coverage of some protective measures and allowed adult children to remain on their parents’ policies. But all these provisions give insurance companies grounds for raising premiums, deductibles or co-payments.

The worst feature of the ACA is that it leaves about 30 million people uninsured. Under the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (H.R.676), everyone is covered. Medicare makes sense because it is efficient, and its administrative costs are only 3 percent. It would be funded primarily by small increases in payroll taxes. No premiums! Health care will be recognized as a human right and not a commodity.

If you cannot come to the birthday party but are interested more information or in joining Just Health Care, contact us by phone: 352-375-2832 or email info@justhealthcareflorida.org.

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