What’s a Health Care Cooperative?

Right now, the only “public” option for affordable health insurance is Medicare, which is only for those over 65 years old. If there isn’t another “public” option for others, this has ramifications for Medicare and Medicaid.

Right now in the U.S. there is a single payer government plan, Medicare, for those over the age of 65. The plan works as well as it can, given the debt load of the nation and the spiraling costs of health care. There isn’t anything else like this idea for other people who can’t afford health care or can’t afford much coverage at all. This is where health care reform is supposed to come in.

The clear problem with health care reform that doesn’t have a government option or component is that those who aren’t in Medicare or Medicaid may wind up raiding those programs to get what they need. That may mean a decrease in funding and greater difficulty in accessing programs for those over 65; a sort of Robin Hood approach of robbing the richer programs to pay for the poorer programs.

The substitution of the so-called health care cooperative for the government option is simply a thinly veiled excuse for the creation of more insurance companies. The usual example trotted out of a health care cooperative is something called Group Health. In fact, Group Health is an “insurance” company that reinvests its yearly revenues not redistributes them among members. It is only governed like a cooperative, making it one in name only.

Group Health’s fees are a tad lower than other insurance outfits, records are computerized and physicians get performance based salaries which seems to be a code word for “keeping costs down to a minimum.”
To access affordable health care by this route, those needing medical assistance are assigned a team of primary care practitioners, meaning you have no say in the matter. If access isn’t readily available to see the doctor, you will see a nurse; no ifs, ands or buts. If keeping medical costs down is the raison d’être for the insurance company, chances are expensive tests are not ordered that often and treating deathly ill patients would not be a preference.

Drugs and procedures, how medicine is practiced, and health insurance coverage decisions are made by the company – made by an insurance company. Think about that for a minute. Reading between the lines here, Group Health isn’t really “group health,” it is an insurance company with a bottom line to stay in business and make money. Staying in business by cost cutting medical care is a scary idea.

Will this come to pass? Only time will tell, and since the health care reform bill is gathering some dust right now, no one seems to know what will transpire for the future. For now Medicare and Medicare supplements are doing yeoman’s duty and allowing people the choice of physicians. It may not be perfect, but it limps along, working for “now.” Stay tuned for what the future may bring, and in the meantime do some thinking about what alternatives might work for your health care. The President has said if people like their health care they can keep it. Can they?

Clelland Green is with Benepath.com, a leader in providing health insurance quotes. Benepath provides individuals, families, and businesses with affordable health insurance quotes in just a few mouse clicks. To learn more about Health insurance quotes, affordable health insurance, affordable health insurance quotes, health insurance plans, visit Benepath.com.

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