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School and Program Updates

Columbia: Dr. Jamie Daw Contributes to Conversation on ‘Medicare for All’

Presidential candidates and the Trump administration continue to weigh in on the viability of ‘Medicare for All.’ In a discussion by health systems and policy experts in MedPage Today Dr. Jamie Daw, at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health offered her insights on how universal coverage with private insurers is workable.

“Much of the focus has been on the Canadian model…where the government is the sole payer… Private insurance has a limited role and can’t cover anything the government covers. This system is one of the most extreme departures from the existing U.S. healthcare system.”

Other universal coverage models might be worth looking at, according to Daw. In a New York Times article Dr. Daw writes about one of those models: the German system. “Germany offers a health insurance model that, like Canada’s, results in far less spending than in the U.S., while achieving universal, comprehensive coverage. The difference is that Germany’s is a multipayer model.”

“In Germany, people are required to have health insurance, but they can choose between more than 100 private nonprofit insurers called “sickness funds”, according to Dr. Daw. “Insurance plans are not tied to employers. Services are funded through progressive taxation, so access is based on need…, and financial contributions are based on wealth, not health.”

This model “introduces competition and choice, and builds more naturally on the existing U.S. healthcare system,” writes Dr. Daw. In the U.S., even within public health insurance programs, “over 70 percent of Medicaid enrollees and a third of Medicare beneficiaries receive coverage from private plans. It’s clear there is a desire for significant reform and a universal coverage system that maintains some role for private insurance could be more politically palatable.”

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