Need fresh thinking
There is irony in your story about rising health care costs (“Cost factors,” Tribune-Herald, Jan. 4), where you report that premiums for people covered by the Affordable Care Act are going up four times faster than premiums for other Kaiser Permanente members. Might we soon rename it the Unaffordable Care Act?
Your story also illuminates the cost disparity between members of health groups — employees, union members and Medicare participants, most of whom get work- or age-related group plans — and individuals without access to such group membership.
My wife, self-employed, falls into the latter category. And contrary to your report that premiums have been doubling every 10 years, her premiums with Kaiser Permanente have doubled in the past three years. That is certainly not affordable health care.
We need to do several things. First, we need to open the state of Hawaii to all insurers, not just the anointed oligopoly we have. More insurers, more competition, lower premiums.
Second, we need to find ways to facilitate group memberships for those left out. Why not, for example, let individual taxpayers join the government employee health care group, where they could benefit from the lower premiums and political heft of that organization?
That might be an off-the-wall idea, but recent premium increases among group-excluded individuals have been so staggering that the problem demands fresh thinking. If taxpayers can fund government employee benefit programs, why should those same taxpayers not share the same benefit?
Without changes of this magnitude, I fear health care eventually will become unaffordable to all but the very connected.
I agree almost totally with Kawika Crowley about solving the doctor shortage by providing them a living off of the land on the Big Island (Your Views, Tribune-Herald, Jan. 1).
And of course this also would possibly solve the homeless problem, if someone could come forward and buy up this land for them.
Also, have we considered that one day, and it could be any day now, the economy on the mainland could go bust (we are more than $20 trillion in debt) and everything Hawaii imports from the mainland would no longer come to us?
Being self-sufficient, as far as growing our own food, clothing, alternate fuel on this Big Island, would be the answer to all of our problems. Think about this.