Mission Impossible.

Author:Singleton, Marilyn M.
Position:HEALTH BEAT - Medicare-for-all, health savings accounts, and short-term limited duration insurance policies

IN THE ORIGINAL "Mission: Impossible" TV series, against all odds and through brilliant strategizing, the good guys thwart stealth Communist plots to undermine democracies. In trying to provide affordable, quality, personalized medical care, independent physicians face seemingly insurmountable obstacles: digging out from under piles of electronic paperwork; breaking free of third-party red tape; dodging hospital buyouts; and shielding patients from data mining and privacy intrusions.

The biggest obstacle to great medical care, though, is the socialist brigade rallying around Medicare-for-All, the proposed federally financed program that boasts no premiums, deductibles, or copays, with medical, dental, vision, and hearing benefits. What could possibly go wrong? As they say, "Show me the money." The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Federal government will spend about one trillion dollars on health-care programs this year. A detailed Mercatus Center analysis concluded that Medicare-for-All would add 32.6 trillion dollars to Federal expenditures during its first 10 years.

Currently, payroll taxes and income tax on Social Security benefits fund Medicare's Part A Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) estimates this fund will be depleted by 2026. General tax revenues and beneficiary premiums fund medical services coverage (Part B). Medicare-for-All would be financed by current Medicare funds--minus the insurance premiums--and would be supplemented by the ever-popular "taxing the rich." Beware, as the definition of "the rich" will be ratcheted down to encompass more taxpayers.

Then there is the coercive nature of Medicare. A beneficiary's opting out of Medicare Part A means forfeiting all past and future Social Security benefits. Medicare-for-All makes it clear that no straying from the herd is allowed: neither private insurers nor employers can offer insurance that competes with the government.

However, more choices are becoming available for potential patients, as the House of Representatives has passed two packages of expansions of Health Savings Accounts. To name a few benefits, the contribution limit for an HSA nearly doubled to $6,650 for individuals and to $13,300 for families. HSAs would be allowed to pay for direct primary care (DPC) monthly fees. Best yet, anyone would be able to purchase a lower-premium catastrophic plan--removing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's under-age-30...

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