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Author: TMFDj111 Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 5068  
Subject: Re: Health Insurance in Retirement Date: 2/20/2005 8:58 AM
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The issue concerns health insurance for retirees, *given current trends*.

While heredity has influence on health, lifestyle and environment also have influences. Probably the best way to handle your need for healthcare would be to focus attention on affecting the factors that affect wellness so that you won't need healthcare. Generally wellness programs are composed of lifestyles that consider diet and exercise, and exercise is composed of strength training, aerobic training, and flexibility training. The best lay source I know of healthful lifestyle information is Prevention magazine:
http://www.prevention.com/

Universal health care had been a political issue for a few years. Hillary Clinton proposed a grand revision to health care when she was First Lady. When that plan died, other, less sweeping plans worked their way onto state and federal agendas.

One of the major new benefits is the Health Savings Account that was made law two years ago. This TMF article provides details:
http://www.fool.com/taxes/2004/taxes040730.htm

I suggest that you should visit the webpage for whatever your state calls an insurance commissioner. All states have websites with URLs of the format: http://www.state.XX.us/, where XX is the two-letter postal code for your state. From your state's homepage, look for the insurance commissioner, and then look for his or her vision for the future of health insurance. When you get to the vision, then you may want to call the insurance commissioner's office for details.

I also suggest that you review AARP's vision for universal health care. AARP is a political powerhouse, and they will influence legislators. Their website is:
http://www.aarp.org/

Health insurance has become such a problem that many groups offer their own insurance plans as benefits of membership. Former and soon-to-be-former blue-collar workers should see what their union and trade associations have to offer. Former and soon-to-be-former white-collar workers should see what their professional and industry associations have to offer. Members of religious congregations should see what is available through their places of worship.

Privite health insurance remains available. It's expensive, but it's available. The most reputable source of private health insurance is Blue Cross/Blue Shield:
http://www.bcbs.com/

There is political activisism. You could contact your federal and state elected representatives to let them know your concerns and suggested solutions. Depending on your interest and expertise, you might even volunteer your time to help your legislators develop and advocate positions on healthcare.

Keep in mind that there are finite tax dollars available to legislatures. Creating new benefits requires either cannibalizing existing benefits or raising taxes.

Finally, I believe that when the United States choose to follow the path of employer-provided healthcare many years ago, that decision made sense in the context of the times. However that paradigm no longer makes sense in contemporary American society.

DELETING the tax advantages employers receive for providing health care is not a viable solution. I think the approach should be to TRANSFER the tax advantages from employers to taxpayers.

I would like to see a form of universal CATASTROPHIC health care coupled with routine wellness and medical care. The catastrophic health care would have very high deductibles, say $5,000 or $10,000 per person per year, and individuals would pay the premiums for this insurance through health savings accounts and perhaps receiving additional tax benefits in the process. Individuals would also would pay for routine medical care out of pocket or through health savings accounts. The modification I would make is individuals would get to keep whatever money they didn't spend from their health savings accounts, which would provide a financial incentive for wellness and a disincentive to frivolous use of the healthcare system.

I think a benefit of this approach would be that physicians and other healthcare providers would be forced to focus their attention on providing services to their patients. I think the current system forces physicians and other healthcare providers to focus their attention on providing services to insurance companies and employers.

David Jacobs
TMFDj111
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