Thursday, April 27, 2006

WI to attempt 100% healthcare coverage

The Wisconsin state legislature is beginning to talk about a health program that covers every employee in the state, and will allow self-employed people to buy in at cost.

This program:
  • Covers every employee in the state.
  • Standardizes benefits and administration (lowering administration cost substantially.)
  • will lower prescription drug prices by bargaining with pharmaceutical companies
  • establish common quality standards for hospitals and health care providers to control costs.
Since this plan covers ALL employers and reduces costs, employers are not opposing it.

From the Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times:
Employers would be required to pay a monthly premium and employees would be responsible for deductibles and co-pay costs. Self-employed people, early retirees and others not covered could buy into the plan at cost.[Snip]

The proposal was developed in consultation with employers, medical experts and community representatives as a way of providing affordable, comprehensive, quality health care, Newby said.

"We will have a product that people can look at, so we have something concrete that can be discussed during the coming election campaigns," Newby added. "We knew we would not get consideration during this legislative session because it is almost over."[Snip]

Benefits would be comprehensive and cover "all medically necessary care," he said, including inpatient and outpatient hospital costs, physician services, routine physical exams, diagnostic testing, maternity care, emergency care and prescription drugs.

An actuarial study done in 2003 by the Lewin Group at the request of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO found that if the plan been in effect during that year, employers would have paid a flat fee per employee of less than $300. A projection for current costs comes to $340.

Employees and dependents would pay a yearly deductible of $300 for a single person or $600 for a family. Co-pays would be $15 for office visits, $10 for generic drugs and $20 for brand-name drugs.

Those speaking in favor of the bill included the mayors of Menasha and Lodi, who said their cities and taxpayers could save substantial amounts on insurance coverage under the plan. Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel said the county could save $3.5 million per year. [Snip]

Details of the plan are available on The bill -- S.B. 698 -- will soon be available on the Legislature's Web site,
This plan should be compared to the one being discussed in the Massachusetts legislature.

Universal healthcare is an idea whose time has come in America. This one in Wisconsin will be single payer. The one in Massachusets does not seem to be single payer, so it will be (in my opinion) more expensive. The difference is that the Wisconsin plan will Standardize benefits and administration. The cost of a variety of types of benefits and forms of administration are substantial.

That's two states discussing, 48 left to go.


At 10:52 PM, Blogger Writing Left said...

It seems that one of the best ways to encourage universal healthcare is for the government to create a minimum standard and employers would be able to provide additional coverage if they wished to include it in their benefits package. Does either the WI or MA proposals provide for additional or supplemental coverage for people? Also, isn't the Maine program one which seeks universal coverage through a combination of government and private coverage? Shouldn't that be included in the stastics of 48 to go?


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