Knopf: Slaying myths around ColoradoCare and single-payer health care (column) | SummitDaily.com

Knopf: Slaying myths around ColoradoCare and single-payer health care (column)

Susan Knopf
Special to the Daily

I am a mother of three of children, one of whom is a doctor. I'm a former award-winning journalist who covered medicine, a former pharmaceutical rep., a ski instructor. And I'm a health-care consumer who currently spends 25 percent of my household income on health insurance. We expect our local professionals to present accurate information.

Based on Dr. Erin Sain's erroneous and misleading op-ed on ColoradoCare (published in the Summit Daily on Aug. 31), it appears in her research, she missed some key facts.

ColoradoCare represents the first time ever that a tax replaces an expense you already pay and provides the same service for less money. ColoradoCare is paid primarily through a payroll deduction – 3.33 percent for employees and 6.67 percent for employers. If a Colorado resident has non-payroll income, say from investments, that income will be subject to a 10-percent deduction to pay for health care. Seniors enjoy a hefty exemption, up to an estimated $75,000 for couples.

This is a huge savings over what health-care costs now. Health care in the US currently costs on average 17 percent of income. Employers pay an average of 13.5 percent of payroll for employee health care, and that average includes those employers who currently contribute nothing.

Here in Summit County, we are told to expect health insurance rate hikes of 30 to 40 percent for 2017 — after suffering record rate hikes for the past two years and living with the highest health-insurance rates in the country.

ColoradoCare rates can not go up unless we, the residents of Colorado, vote for a rate increase. And multiple economists calculate the initial rates will cover health-care costs with no increase for 10 years. When was the last time your health-insurance company asked your permission to raise your rates?

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ColoradoCare gives us the opportunity to be exempted from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). To qualify for this exemption, ColoradoCare is required by federal law to provide "Silver Plan" coverage. That is a very specific standard of care, easily verified.

The ColoradoCare model exceeds the standards of benefits provided by the ACA and is built on a model providing "Platinum Plus" level benefits, with no deductibles ever and no co-pays on preventative care and primary care. As to more specifics, it is not legal to articulate such things for an entity, such as ColoradoCare not yet legally constituted.

Senator and Dr. Irene Aguilar, M.D., T.R. Reid, several economists and policy experts have worked tirelessly for eight years to bring this gift to Coloradans: An opportunity to provide comprehensive health care for all Coloradans at a substantial cost savings for 80-85 percent of our residents.

ColoradoCare is a co-op, organized similarly to an agricultural co-op or a federal credit union. The ColoradoCare Board of Directors will be elected by its members (the people of Colorado), regardless of political parties. When was the last time you elected a director to the board of your health-insurance provider? But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself at http://www.ColoradoCare.org

Currently, all insurance is written on a state-by-state basis, and, generally, there is no guarantee of out-of-state and out-of network service. ColoradoCare represents that such charges will be submitted to ColoradoCare and paid. That means if you travel out of the state of Colorado and get hurt or sick, you will be covered. Services easily scheduled when you are home — and services generally available within the state of Colorado — are expected to be rendered in the state. This is not a mystery, nor does it differ in any way from our current insurance products and policies. In fact, it may be better than your current policy.

ColoradoCare will also cover the medical portion of Workman's Comp insurance premiums currently paid by employers. It does not affect any other current benefits of Workman's Comp insurance. Most small businesses find ColoradoCare covers health care for all employees for about the same money business owners were spending on the medical portion of Workman's comp (59 percent of the premium cost) plus health-care coverage for management. No deductibles ever, and no co-pays on primary care and preventative care. Do the math and find out how much money you will save: http://www.coloradocare.org/for-you/calculate-your-savings/

Contrary to Dr. Sain's baseless predictions, ColoradoCare will be a far more valuable tax deduction for individuals and businesses because, instead of being medical insurance, it will come off the top of income, as a far more valuable and deductible state tax. Under the current for-profit health-insurance regime, small businesses pay much higher insurance rates. ColoradoCare finally levels the playing field and everybody, every size business pays the same percentage.

As for those who oppose ColoradoCare … follow the money. One quarter of every health-care dollar we now spend pays for health-care administration, mostly flowing out-of-state to United Healthcare, headquartered in Minnesota; and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Indiana. There is also a burgeoning group of executives, administrators, medical billing and collection services — all of which will be adversely affected when we cut the red tape and reduce medical administration from 25 percent to 4-5 percent.

And how do we know this is possible? Medicare operates with low administrative costs, and universal health-care plans in 34 countries operate with the same level of efficiency. The fact is, for-profit health care is inefficient and expensive. Currently, the U.S. pays more than twice per person what other nations pay for health care; and our health-care outcomes rank at the bottom behind other nations whose citizens pay far less.

Isn't it time we covered everyone and enjoyed the same quality health care as citizens of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom? And ColoradoCare keeps our health-care dollars in Colorado, employing Coloradans.

Isn't it time we got our money's worth?