Items filtered by date: Thursday, 07 March 2019
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Medicare for all: Reality or fantasy?

Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Presidential Election called for a single payer system to cure our healthcare woes. Now Democratic contenders for the 2020 election are calling for the same. Some voters are salivating at the thought, tired of high insurance premiums and deductibles. Others are cringing at the idea of the government running our healthcare system. Yet most are confused and want more details. So let’s break it down.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the health insurance offered by the federal government for those over 65 and with disabilities. According to medicare.gov they breakdown medicare as the following:

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for:

  • People who are 65 or older

  • Certain younger people with disabilities

  • People with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD)

The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)

Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)  

Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.

Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)

Part D adds prescription drug coverage to:

  • Original Medicare
  • Some Medicare Cost Plans
  • Some Medicare Private-Fee-for-Service Plans
  • Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans

These plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans may also offer prescription drug coverage that follows the same rules as Medicare Prescription Drug Plans

Medicare Advantage (also known as Part C) is an “all in one” alternative to Original Medicare. These “bundled” plans include Part A, Part B, and usually Part D.

What is Medicare For All?

Originally suggested by Senator Bernie Sanders, Medicare for All would essentially allow all Americans to qualify for Medicare. According to Unitedmedicareadvisors.com:

Medicare for All promises to cover numerous healthcare products and services, including the following:

  • Inpatient and outpatient health care services

  • Preventative, emergency, and nonemergency health care services and treatments

  • Primary and specialty healthcare, including palliative and long-term care

  • Care for vision, hearing, and oral health problems

  • Mental health and addiction services

  • Prescription medication

  • Medical equipment and supplies

  • Diagnostic tests

The concept sounds nice but Medicare doesn’t currently cover many of the above such as hearing aids, dental exams, and long-term care.

How would Medicare For All be subsidized?

Unitedmedicareadvisors.com reports the following:

MEDICARE FOR ALL, ESTIMATED TO COST AROUND $1.38 TRILLION A YEAR, WOULD OPERATE WITH FUNDING FROM THE FOLLOWING SOURCES:
  • $630 BILLION FROM A 6.2 PERCENT INCOME-BASED PREMIUM PAID BY EMPLOYERS
  • $210 BILLION FROM A 2.2 PERCENT INCOME-BASED PREMIUM PAID BY HOUSEHOLDS MAKING MORE THAN $28,800
  • $110 BILLION FROM PROGRESSIVE INCOME TAX RATES FOR AMERICANS WITH YEARLY EARNINGS OVER $250,000
  • $92 BILLION FROM TAXING CAPITAL GAINS AND DIVIDENDS IN LINE WITH EMPLOYMENT INCOME
  • $15 BILLION FROM LIMITING TAX DEDUCTION FOR AMERICANS WITH YEARLY EARNINGS OVER $250,000
  • $21 BILLION FROM A NEW RESPONSIBLE ESTATE TAX APPLIED TO THE HOMES OF AMERICANS INHERITING MORE THAN $3.5 MILLION
  • $310 BILLION FROM SAVINGS AS HEALTH-RELATED TAX EXPENSES BECOME OBSOLETE

Unfortunately, tax hikes on employers could lead to price hikes and less employment.

So the concerns I have are Medicare doesn’t currently cover what Medicare for All is touting and the expense may be underprojected.

Moreover many healthcare providers do NOT take Medicare so access can be an issue.

However, until premiums and deductibles go down, and more Americans become insured, plans such as this will gain attention and popularity.

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

Published in Health

Meanwhile, in the gaming community there has been some controversy about an upcoming game. Well, actually it’s been more like a huge fight. You see, there is a game developer called, “Desk Plant” and they are planning to release a game in April called “Rape Day.”

If you think the name of a game Rape Day means that you get to play a game where you … you know, rape women. Well, then you’d be right. That’s right - some douchebag company honestly thought it would be a great idea to market a game where you could rape women.

But who would be dumb enough to release such a game (you might ask)?

Enter Steam. For those that do not know, Steam is website developed by Valve Corporation. The site is used to distribute games & related media online and provides the user with installation and automatic management of software. Steam has a lot of games. And I mean - a lot. I use it all the time. In fact, 90 million active members use Steam every month, just to give you an idea how big the game site is.

Steam is no stranger to controversy. They sell a huge variety of games that cover a huge variety of topics up to and including - controversial topics. There has been game drama. Which led Steam to come up with an official response and, they kind of washed their hands with policing games they sell on their site. They feel that folks should be able to tell stories and create games about any and all controversial topics. It’s the free speech argument. Which is totally fair, so they basically said that unless the game is illegal - we’ll sell it.  From their official June 6th, 2018 blog post:

“...we've decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.”  

Okay. Fair enough. The “straight up trolling” comment is the interesting part because that could mean … well, a lot of different things.

Cut to Rape Day. The developers call it an interactive graphic novel. What this means is the game is not a traditional animated movement game as your characters walk around, interact with objects and fight bad guys. Instead of that, it’s more like you (the player) are flipping pages of a comic book and get to make choices in order to reveal specific drawn pages.

The premise of Rape Day is simple: it’s a zombie apocalypse. And in the zombie apocalypse you play a sociopath. And you get to kill zombies. You also get to murder survivors and rape any and all women you encounter!

Um, what?

As you can imagine, the ridiculous premise brought the gamer social media house down. Multiple petitions and almost ten thousand emails flooded Steam Sales owner Valve Corporation with a universal cry of “WTF?”

After a few days of deliberating, Steam released this as their official word on the matter:

"After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think Rape Day poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won't be on Steam. We respect developers’ desire to express themselves, and the purpose of Steam is to help developers find an audience, but this developer has chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them do that."

I’m fine with Steam’s decision here. Now, this doesn’t mean no one will be able to find the game anywhere. Desk Plant will probably just sell it off their own site, or something. But not getting on Steam will certainly restrict its findability, for sure.

BUT .... like all controversial things … controversy breeds sales. And I know I am part of the problem here. For example: It’s highly likely that, had I not written about this game - you may have gone your entire life without ever hearing about it. And I wouldn’t have ever heard about it had several game sites not written about it. Had the game just been released on Steam it might have come and gone and the overwhelming majority of us would have lived in blissful ignorance. Which, probably, would have kept sales for Rape Day, very, very low. And then the game and the company that developed it, probably would have come and gone and faded into obscurity.

Alas, now it’s out there. It’s not even just on the game sites any longer as Variety, Business Insider and Fortune all have articles about it. What probably began as some legitimately concerned women and/or parents sending a message or two to Steam asking them, “Is this seriously what you want to sell on your site?” has now blossomed into free advertising for a game that most folks would have never, ever heard about in the first place.

Which makes me a little sad. I mean, technically, these guys aren't doing anything illegal (as far as I am aware) but the idea of trying to "normalize rape" (that's the game developer's words, not mine) frankly, is kind of disgusting. 

So, while Rape Day, as a game, might be legal - at least it won’t easily accessible and found on Steam. And I'm okay with that.

Although, I am suddenly playing Devil's Advocate here and thinking, "But if it remains on Steam, you could see which of your friends are playing it and then you could sit them down and be like, "Dude - WTF is wrong with you!?"

Nah. I guess I'd just rather just have it off Steam, go find it somewhere else, Incel Troll.  

Published in News & Information