Just two companies plan to “compete” in a health insurance “exchange” in Maine. These exchanges are part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare.

Their policy offerings may include deductibles as high as $10,000, and there are no benefits until the deductible is paid. Those high deductible policies are not affordable health insurance; they are, in essence, “catastrophic insurance.”

There could be a “fine” for not buying insurance. Fines may cost less than insurance with premiums costing several hundred a month and the deductible costing several thousands.

It is likely the Affordable Care Act will not make a dent in the high cost of health care, but it will guarantee that insurance companies can make a nice profit. Inserting insurance in the health care equation increases costs and encourages provider greed and fraud.

To reduce health care cost, insurance companies must be taken out of the equation. Once insurance companies are out of the equation, health care can be made affordable for millions, by converting to universal health care, as originally intended. This can be done using a model similar to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This model would not be managed by the government but instead as a nonprofit corporation.

The Medicare-Medicaid model structure is already in place. Payroll withholding for premiums is already in place. Both can readily be reworked to provide universal health care.

This model functioned well for years until Congress decided to outsource Medicare to insurance companies and then pay them with Medicare money so they could compete with the cost effectiveness of Medicare.

Medicare is not insurance. That move by Congress and Medicaid fraud may ultimately kill Medicare. It is naïve to think having health insurance will lower the high cost of health care.

Jim Chiddix, Waterville

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