Full health insurance coverage is both possible and affordable

To the Editor: At the Feb. 27 Providence Business News Summit on Health Care Reform and the Insurance Exchange (“Savings, competition, future plans aired at PBN Health Care Summit,” Feb. 27 PBN.com), the increasing cost of health care was a major concern. More

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OP-ED / LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Full health insurance coverage is both possible and affordable

Posted 4/21/14

To the Editor:

At the Feb. 27 Providence Business News Summit on Health Care Reform and the Insurance Exchange (“Savings, competition, future plans aired at PBN Health Care Summit,” Feb. 27 PBN.com), the increasing cost of health care was a major concern.

Massachusetts has proven that a state can provide a workable system for universal health care insurance coverage (98 percent of the people living in Massachusetts have health care insurance). However, their cost for health care insurance has greatly increased.

I believe that Rhode Island could provide health care insurance to almost every person living in Rhode Island and reduce the cost in the process.

If Rhode Island provided funds to cover a large percentage of the cost of pre-existing conditions, allowed each individual to choose the health care policy that fits their budget and health care needs and allowed all health care insurance companies nationwide to compete for business in Rhode Island, Rhode Island could provide universal health care insurance coverage at a reduced cost. And here are four reasons this approach would work:

To provide funds to cover a large percentage of the cost of pre-existing conditions, Rhode Island should put a yearly $30 surcharge on each vehicle liability insurance policy sold in Rhode Island. There are about 1 million covered vehicles in Rhode Island. This surcharge would raise $30 million each year. The state and the federal government would match these funds. Ninety million dollars would be available each year to help cover the cost of pre-existing conditions. Because vehicle liability insurance companies are highly competitive (Geico, Progressive, etc.), the cost of each vehicle liability policy would not go up by $30. It would probably be much less.

People in Rhode Island know what they can afford to pay. When the price is right, everyone, especially young, healthy people, will buy a policy because they know they will have coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Competition among all health care insurance companies will bring the price of each policy down.

Because of these reduced costs, many low-income families could afford to buy health care insurance, which would reduce the costs of Rhode Island’s Medicaid and CHIP programs.

When almost every person in Rhode Island is paying for a health care insurance policy, the pool of money available will be very large, which will allow the price of each policy to be further reduced. Most businesses, large and small, would be able to offer health care insurance to their employees. Computer technology will allow each employee to choose the policy that fits their budget and health care needs.

Ken Berwick,

Smithfield

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