The Candidates on Health Care

Credit Jeannie Phan

Credit Jeannie Phan

The New York Times, Oct. 2, 2015
The Opinion Pages | Editorial

While the Republican presidential candidates have been busy railing against Obamacare, the two leading contenders for the Democratic nomination have staked out radically different ideas on how to improve the American health care system.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has proposed adding useful consumer protections to the Affordable Care Act. Senator Bernie Sanders wants to create a single-payer system that would essentially expand Medicare to cover people of all ages.

Senator Sanders’s bold call for “a fundamental transformation of the American health care system” would look more like the plans in many other industrialized nations that often achieve better health outcomes at lower costs. His home state of Vermont flirted with the idea, but it dropped its plans because of fears that the high costs would harm the economy. A national program could be more cost-effective, but it has no chance of surmounting opposition from Republicans and from health care industries that fear their profits would be cut.


National Day of Action for "Medicare for All"


Program: More Talk Radio
Air date: Mon, 09/28/2015 - 8:00am - 9:00am
ncludes comments by Camillo Marquez

Hosts Celeste Carey and Cecil Prescod speak with Students for a National Health Program or SNaHP, the student arm of Physicians for a National Health Program or PNHP. Their guests are Scott Goldberg, a student at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and Umer Waris, who is at UC Davis School of Medicine

Citing the persistence of thousands of preventable deaths each year due to lack of health insurance, students at more than 20 medical schools will hold teach-ins, rallies and candlelight vigils on October 1st to bring national attention to ‘our failing health care system and the need for single-payer health reform

Students for a National Health Program – working in coalition with the American Medical Student Association, WhiteCoats4BlackLives, the Latino Medical Student Association, Universities Allied for Essential Medicine, and Pre-Health Dreamers – will hold teach-ins, rallies, and candlelight vigils to remember the millions of people in our country who remain uninsured, underinsured and underserved by our current health care system. We will also underscore the need for a more fundamental health reform – a nonprofit, publicly financed, single-payer health system.

Health Insurance Deductibles Outpacing Wage Increases, Study Finds

The New York Times, by Reed Abelson, Sept 22, 2015

It may not seem like much — just an extra hundred dollars or so a year.

But the steady upward creep in health insurance deductibles has easily outpaced the average increase in a worker’s wages over the last five years, according to a new analysis released on Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Kaiser, a health policy research group that conducts a yearly survey of employer health benefits, calculates that deductibles have risen more than six times faster than workers’ earnings since 2010.

“It’s a very powerful trend,” said Drew Altman, Kaiser’s chief executive.

Four of five workers who receive their insurance through an employer now pay a deductible, in which they must pay some of their medical bills before their coverage starts, according to Kaiser.

Those workers’ deductibles have climbed from a yearly average of $900 in 2010 for an individual plan to above $1,300 this year, while employees working for small businesses have an even higher average of $1,800 a year. One in five workers has a deductible of $2,000 or more.


Here’s How Much the Average American Worker Has to Pay for Health Care

time.org, Money, by Kara Brandeisky, Sept 22, 2015

More than ever, employers are shifting a greater share of costs onto employees.

This year, employees are really feeling the pinch because their health insurance costs are rising much more quickly than their wages, says Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Monthly premiums have risen 24% since 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation found. Even more troubling, deductibles—the set amount employees must pay with their own money before insurance kicks in—have increased 67% over the past five years. Wages, on the other hand, have grown only 10% during that same time period.

“If wages were keeping up with the growth in cost sharing, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal for people,” Altman says. “But the pain level is significant. It really affects family budgets.”


Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight

The New York Times, By ANDREW POLLACK, SEPT. 20, 2015

Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection.

The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?” said Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.”

Turing’s price increase is not an isolated example. While most of the attention on pharmaceutical prices has been on new drugs for diseases like cancer, hepatitis C and high cholesterol, there is also growing concern about huge price increases on older drugs, some of them generic, that have long been mainstays of treatment.