Healthcare roulette

We-Need-Medicare-for-All-protest-from-Cal-Nurses-by-National-Nurses-United, Healthcare roulette, Local News & Views
By the end of summer 2020, an estimated 27 million people had lost their health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the 29 million who were uninsured before this pandemic even began. Why are we being forced to gamble with our own lives as private healthcare companies spin the roulette wheel? – Photo and data: National Nurses United

by Barry Hermanson

Open enrollment for healthcare plans required under Obamacare starts Nov. 1 and continues through Jan. 31, 2022. If you live in California, a tax on insurance policies funds marketing for Covered California, a state agency facilitating the sale of private insurance company policies. 

Health plans are classified under five major categories to make comparing them easier. The categories are divided according to the percentage of health care costs they pay, and they include the following:

  • Platinum – Plan pays 90 percent of your health costs. You pay 10 percent.
  • Gold – Plan pays 80 percent of your health costs. You pay 20 percent. 
  • Silver – Plan pays 70 percent of your health costs. You pay 30 percent. 
  • Bronze – Plan pays 60 percent of your health costs. You pay 40 percent. 
  • Catastrophic – These plans are only for people under 30 years or those experiencing financial hardship. These plans pay less than 60 percent of your health care costs.”

Silver plans are the most popular. Bronze is the second most. Together, these two make up more than 90 percent of the market.

The Covered California web site advises you to consider your budget and health care needs for the coming year. They are, however, essentially asking you to gamble with your life, while paying an expensive monthly fee to a private insurance company. 

If you lose your bet, you will be asked to pay even more. If you have a major medical expense in the coming year, could you pay 30 to 40 percent of the bill? What a horrible choice to make every year! 

Medicare recipients receive coverage that is similar to Gold plans in that it covers 80 percent. Every year, the federal government mails a more than 100-page booklet to Medicare beneficiaries. Details of obtaining private insurance to cover some or all of the 20 percent coverage gap fill the pages.

Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage and for drug plans began Oct. 15 and will end on Dec. 7. Medigap plans are also available but under limited circumstances. 

In the California Legislature, there is no discussion of a California-based Improved Medicare for All.

If you receive Medicare, you must purchase private insurance for prescription drugs. If you do not and try to purchase it in the future, a penalty will be charged. Penalty payments continue as long as you continue to purchase drug coverage. 

The number of choices for obtaining health care coverage in the United States is overwhelming. A lengthy legal contract goes with every choice. Be sure to read the fine print. Are you really covered? 

It doesn’t have to be this way. In many other countries, every citizen receives better than the Platinum coverage offered in the U.S. Health care is a right, not a commodity. The cost of health care is much less expensive in other countries. In 2019, total health expenditure in the United States was over $11,000 per person. In Canada, less than $5,500

In a few months, it will be two years since the start of the pandemic. In the California Legislature, there is no discussion of a California-based Improved Medicare for All. The silence keeps money flowing to health care insurance companies every time you make your monthly health insurance payment. 

Democratic and Republican Party politicians accept campaign donations from the for-profit health care industry. 

Democrats in Sacramento and Washington support “free market” health care. Covered California is their preferred solution. If you need it, taxpayer subsidies are offered to buy private insurance. 

When it was implemented, Covered California was considered a major achievement. Supposedly, it was the best we could get at the time. We couldn’t get more because so many Democratic and Republican Party politicians accept campaign donations from the for-profit health care industry. 

Health care is a human right. Health care rationing by ability to pay will go away when insurance companies are not allowed to stand between you and your doctor.

Better and more affordable health care will be won at the ballot box. I don’t have confidence politicians will develop and pass legislation that goes against the interests of their campaign donors. 

If you want to be counted as a supporter of an Improved Medicare for All, register to vote with the Green Party. Greens believe health care is a human right. Send a clear message to the Democrats and Republicans who represent you at the state and federal level. Health care is a human right!

Barry Hermanson is a Green Party of California Coordinating Committee member and a former small business ownerContact him at or 415-255-9494.