Analysis raises questions about single-payer health care plan

A single-payer health care system proposed for Colorado would save money, but still struggle to collect enough revenue to fully cover costs, according to an analysis of the measure on the November ballot.

The Colorado Health Institute said its analysis found the so-called ColoradoCare plan would nearly break even in its first year, but would face increasing deficits without additional tax increases.

Proponents of Amendment 69 praised the part of the analysis that projected health care savings, but disputed projections of reduced federal funding that would be available under the plan.

If approved, Amendment 69 would implement a comprehensive health care system funded by a 10 percent tax divided at 6.67 percent for employers and 3.33 percent for employees. People would still choose their medical providers, but bills would be paid by the ColoradoCare system rather than private insurers.

According to the Colorado Health Institute analysis, ColoradoCare would cut billions of dollars in administrative costs and insurance company profits. That money could be reallocated to make Colorado the first state to achieve universal health care coverage. Still, revenues for ColoradoCare — primarily from the 10 percent income tax — won’t keep pace with increasing health care costs.

The analysis found that ColoradoCare would face the same financial dilemma as the current health care system in curbing rising health care costs. Although savings on administrative costs would grow over time, those savings would be overwhelmed by the projected cost of health care growing faster than tax revenue. That revenue accounts for roughly two-thirds of projected funding for the system.

Michele Lueck, president and chief executive director of the Colorado Health Institute, said the organization doesn’t take sides on ballot issues, but strives to provide information about health care issues.

Ivan Miller, executive director of ColoradoCareYES, stated in a news release the analysis assumes federal Medicaid funding would be reduced by $4 billion under the system when it’s reasonable to expect the federal government would maintain that funding under a state waiver. Miller said the analysis also underestimates the ability of the ColoradoCare system to control rising health care costs.

“If CHI had considered increased savings over time and the full Medicaid waiver, it would have found that our model is viable and sustainable,” he said.

15 Responses to "Analysis raises questions about single-payer health care plan"

  1. Dave Beckwith   August 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

    All analyses of future performance of a plan such as ColoradoCare are educated guesses at best. CHI made slightly different assumptions than ColoradoCare, but even if it turns out that CHI was correct, the tax rate required to sustain ColoradoCare would only have to be adjusted from 10.0% to about 10.2%, which is still a huge savings over the current insurance based system which is going up at an average of about 9% per year.

    • JPerryE   August 14, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      There are no guarantees of savings in the long term. There are no guarantees that providers will be available to give care. Utilization or over-utilization are at best estimates.

      • Dave Beckwith   August 14, 2016 at 4:47 pm

        You are right. Every piece of legislation that’s passed is based on analysis, expectations and educated guesses. That’s why every good piece of legislation has mechanisms like ColoradoCare’s board of trustees to make adjustments down the road if needed. That’s why only the basic structure and principles are included in the constitutional amendment. It’s like a car. The board of trustees is like the driver whose job it is to keep the car on the road to get to the destination.

        • JPerryE   August 14, 2016 at 7:59 pm

          Your analogy of a car simply doesn’t fit. If I decide to buy a car I will buy something that suits my specific needs. In addition, when I buy a vehicle I’m not forcing someone else to buy it for me. Whats more, nobody has made a political decision that I must pay for another person’s car or that I must buy a certain make and model. There is nothing charitable or honorable about the takeover of the health insurance industry by force of law.

          You talk about a board of trustees as though they would be a benevolent society. Call them what you’d like, they will be a bunch of overpaid bureaucrats who get to set their own salaries. Because the Board will be a government organization, all their decisions will be political. There will be many layers of supervisors and employees who are chosen by political decision.That’s just the way it works with government, Dave.

          • lissmth   August 14, 2016 at 10:11 pm

            Pretty amazing how these people expect to coerce us into this mess.

          • stubborncuss   August 16, 2016 at 11:24 pm

            The broken non-system that we have now is the mess. Insurers raising rates by double-digits, CEO’s with mountainous compensation packages and companies with immense profits while offering less and less and charging more. When you said that you lost your health insurance in an earlier post, you gave a perfect example of how bad a mess this is and what it does to people. I, too, have lost my health insurance. This is the mess.

          • Dave Beckwith   August 15, 2016 at 2:18 am

            Wow, I don’t think I’ve witnessed this level of cynicism in quite a while. ColoradoCare is modelled after a non-profit cooperative such as a rural electric cooperative. Hundreds of them work quite well at providing a service that an area needs.

            The ColoradoCare trustees and their families, friends and neighbors will all be beneficiaries of ColoradoCare. What makes you think the trustees would screw them all?

          • JPerryE   August 15, 2016 at 7:37 am

            Dave, I’m not sure if you’re living in a make-believe world or if you are being purposely deceitful. I have been a member of a cooperative. I was not forced to pay into it nor was I forced to use its services. A non-profit cooperative is voluntary! Tell me what happens if I choose to opt out of ColoradoCare benefits and taxes?

          • Dave Beckwith   August 15, 2016 at 9:04 am

            I really wish it were possible to make it optional, but in the case of healthcare risk pools, making it optional would mean that all the healthy people would opt out (until they get really sick, then they would jump back in). That won’t work. In order to have everyone covered at an affordable price, you need everyone to pay something all the time.

            Why the extreme aversion to working together to achieve a system where we take care of each other. We do it for police and fire protection, and for public schools, roads, water systems, etc. Healthcare is something we all need, and it’s vital that we have it available when we need it.

          • JPerryE   August 15, 2016 at 9:58 am

            Right. You began soft selling the program as something modeled after a cooperative. Now you’re switching to we all need it so we’re going to force everyone to pay into it. Your leftist idealism is now shown for what it is. A Utopian dream enforced by taxes, liens, confiscation and possibly jail.

            Again, you say that “we all need healthcare.” Healthcare is not guaranteed nor can it be. That is another lie put forth by you and the ColoradoCare proponents.

  2. stubborncuss   August 11, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Plus, ColoradoCare will always be there. There will be no more worrying about income eligibility to qualify for health care, no more metal plans, no more high deductibles to keep Coloradans from using the insurance that they pay for. They do not have to worry about losing their health care if they change jobs, and more businesses could start up with more economic opportunity for Coloradans as people are not chained to jobs because of health insurance.

    • lissmth   August 14, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      Just like other government schemes, this will be expensive and inefficient. How long before it fails, just like Colorado HealthOp? I was one of 83,000 who lost insurance when that failed.

      • stubborncuss   August 15, 2016 at 10:22 pm

        Well, for one, the co-ops were set up to fail in the first place by the lobbyists of the private insurance industry who largely wrote that ACA. So, naturally, it did do as they designed it to do. If we had ColoradoCare when you lost it with this co-op, you would not have lost your insurance at all because it is always there like Medicare. And ColoradoCare is not a government scheme. It is a citizen’s initiative.

        http://reason.com/archives/2015/11/26/why-obamacare-co-ops-keep-failing

  3. JPerryE   August 15, 2016 at 10:31 am

    No matter how softly ColoradoCare is peddled, it would only be another government bureaucracy staffed with layers upon layers of highly paid supervisors, employees, and contractors. How could it possibly be any different that the Veterans Administration Health system or the Indian Health Service. A government organization with $35 billion to spend will be filled with people who first and foremost take care of friends, family and political allies.

  4. John   September 3, 2016 at 9:53 am

    If passed, most predict that Colorado Care will destroy our healthcare system, drive the best and brightest out of Colorado and end in disaster as did Vermont’s walk down this path.