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Nadworny: Cost And Quality

04/14/11 5:55PM By Rich Nadworny
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Vital Signs: Vermont Charts A New Course For Health Care

(HOST) Commentator Rich Nadworny says he's been doing the math on what health care would cost his business under a single payer system - and he believes it will save him money.

(NADWORNY) When I look at the proposed single payer health care plan for Vermont, I look at it from the perspective of a small business owner, and as someone who has actually experienced a single payer system when I lived in Scandanavia.

The first issue is cost. As a small business owner, I want the same health care for my family that I had as an employee. Right now it costs my business around $15,000 per year to get that coverage. That's a lot of money. And it's the same amount of money for any employee that wants the same family health care plan.

Imagine that a single payer system would cover its costs by raising my taxes a thousand dollars a month. That's a big tax increase, right? Well, if they did that, the same coverage would cost my business $12,000 instead of $15,000. That would be a great help to my business. And in the end, I don't care whether it's a tax or a fee to HMOs; it's still an expense.

And the way things are now, when it comes to employees, small businesses like mine are at a competitive disadvantage compared with large firms. The latter can offer new hires much better or cheaper benefits thanks to their pooled health care plans. Yet if you look at data from the last decade, small businesses have accounted for almost all of the job growth in the U.S. For the many small Vermont businesses, the new plan levels the playing field for us.

Another issue is quality. As a patient, I experienced single payer health care for 14 years while living in Sweden. I also worked for the health care systems producing videos. Here in the U.S., a lot of the noisy propaganda paints single payer systems as inadequate and inferior, mostly from people who have never experienced one.

I used to ask the doctors I filmed if they believed the doctors in the U.S. had better skills than Swedish doctors. Their responses were pretty firm: they believed the exact opposite was true. They insisted that their single payer system had resulted in better health care across the board, in everything from medical schools to hospitals to local clinics!

The Swedish health system takes a much more holistic approach than we have with our for profit health system. In areas such as elder care, they've placed a lot of emphasis on preventative care and support. The Swedish system needs to reduce costs too, but they do so by keeping people healthy, rather than by simply cutting access and procedures.

If you asked the Swedes if they would swap their system for ours, I'd guess about 95% of them would answer an emphatic NO. While their system isn't perfect by any means, I thought that system was great from a patient perspective.

My hope is that the legislature can create a system that can save businesses money and make them more competitive, and reduce costs by keeping people healthier. Vermont always does best when it leads rather than follows. Here's just another opportunity to show the country how to do it right.

(TAG) Rich Nadworny owns a digital marketing group.  You can learn more about our Vital Signs coverage of the health care debate at VPR dot net.

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