One of the major points of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation report on covering the uninsured in MA is that many people could be newly insured by the same money that we’re now spending on Uncompensated Care, e.g. when an uninsured person gets hit by a bus, goes to the hospital and gets fixed up, but can’t pay. Well, we all pay for that, through higher insurance premiums, taxes due to higher Medicare charges, local taxes, and a million other ways.
Hospital care in situations like this is, of course, extremely expensive and non-preventative. The report suggests that we could take the same money and invest it in actually covering people, for an added cost from $374 million to $539 million (depending on whose population numbers you use). And you’d get the added economic and moral benefit of healthier people.
The funniest quote from Mitt’s op-ed in the Globe was this:
"Will Commonwealth Care cost the taxpayers more? No! Neither the state nor the taxpayers can afford to pay more."
Uh, Mitt, we’re already paying for a good chunk of it. Money that I pay to the insurance company and money I pay to the tax man is all money that’s not in my pocket. So if we raise the tax on smokes (or even other things: hotels, luxury items, rich people from Utah) to pay for more health care, stave off future increases, and get an economic boost, that’s an investment we should make.
PS: Mitt seems to want to get the working poor onto "stripped down" programs, probably with very high deductibles. But I’ve had that kind of plan before, and guess what? You don’t do much prevention on a $2,000 deductible, for instance. Maybe with a $20 co-pay you’d get that growing mole checked out, or get those X-rays you need. But not when you’re making $9 an hour and the doctor’s visits up to $2k are all coming out of pocket. I hate to say it, but a lot of folks will wait for a crisis before they shell out.
[Edited for clarity in 2nd paragraph.]