health care for all Americans would cost $1,320 a person in annual
premiums, or $3,240 a family, plus administrative costs, according
to the American Medical Association and a coalition of nine other
public and private groups.
In addition, deductibles in the plan would raise the maximum
additional out-of-pocket costs by $1,500 for an individual and
$2,500 for a family.
The coalition, the Health Policy Agenda, set out to advise
employers, employees and other individuals of the health care
benefits that it considered minimal and what those benefits would
cost. The basic package covers preventive medicine, care for acute
illness and care for lasting and recurring illness.
The group did not say how such an insurance package should be
financed or whether the government should take on part of the cost
of paying premiums or administering it, a position that is not
surprising given the range of health care providers, insurance
companies and representatives of business, labor and consumer groups
in the coalition. The group said it wanted to make a contribution
to the debate on national health care that is taking place in
Washington and in the national election campaign.
``We're not saying that this should be public or private,
mandated or voluntary,'' said Diane B. McCarthy, chairman of the
committee that produced the report. ``We're saying that what you
need as a buyer of health insurance is some kind of a benchmark, an
evaluation tool, to look at and say, `This is what this group
considers basic.' ''
McCarthy is a former Arizona state representative who also
served on the AMA commission on the cost of medical care.
``The groups involved usually fight each other and have never
before agreed on the basics,'' said Gene Kimmelman, legislative
director of the Consumer Federation of America.
He said that, in addition to the 37 million Americans without
health insurance, 30 million to 40 million Americans are paying for
insurance that is inadequate.
Under the terms of the package, patients would pay out-of-pocket
costs of $200 for hospital expenses, $100 for other services and 20
percent of the remaining expenses up to a ceiling of $1,500.
Families would pay out-of-pocket costs of $200 for hospital
expenses, $250 for other services and 20 percent of remaining
expenses up to a ceiling of $2,500.
A spokesman for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said
that administrative costs averaged about 10 cents on the premium
dollar. She said the projected cost of the basic benefit package
proposed by the coalition was about what the equivalent package
would cost a Blue Cross and Blue Shield subscriber. …