High costs of universal coverage

An op-ed by Judith White Bridger in the Lansing State Journal inadvertently shows one way that universal health coverage could severely inflate America’s health care spending:

I live in East Lansing, I’m 64, a retired small-business owner who is divorced. My house is paid for, I drive a high-mileage automobile – and I’m uninsured. My health care expenses since 2005 have come to a rip- roaring $400.

According to the AARP Web site, insurance premiums and deductibles for my age and location for the same 4 1/2 years are estimated at between $22,500 and $36,000, when a trip to a local Redi-Care cost about $95, and an accompanying antibiotic prescription can be filled at Meijer for free.

So coverage for this woman – by AARP’s estimation – would cost the country $22,500 – $36,000 over four years, but her actual health expenditures came to “a rip-roaring $400.” Universal coverage would cost $22,100 – $35,600 more for this woman than simply letting her cover her own costs, which she can afford – and even if she couldn’t, certainly insurance coverage wouldn’t be the most cost-effective way of making sure she received health care.

The author also shows the true face of many of Michigan’s uninsured: financially stable and able to afford health care, but uninsured because it’s a more financially prudent choice.

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