COVID-19 and Medicare for All.

COVID-19 is killing people. There can be no doubt that this will go down in history as one of the most devastating pandemics to hit our world. We will weather the storm, but we will be changed by it. Our lives will be different, our economy will be different, and our view of critical services like health care will be different. The question is, how? We are still in the midst of the battle but I have already heard people begin the argument that “socialized medicine” or “Medicare for all” would have made this better. I thought it might be interesting to do some comparisons between what is happening in the US at this point and what is happening in some of the nations that have socialized medicine. DISCLAIMER: I am not suggesting that this information is the only consideration and the data analysis here could change significantly. Still, from today’s perspective and using today’s data, here’s what we know. (NOTE: All statistics come from the John’s Hopkins University COVID-19 data and are as of 3/2/2020)


The US is one of the 10 nations hardest hit by this virus. The others on that list are Italy, Spain, France, China, Iran, the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany. While all of these nations have variations in their health care systems, most of them have systems that embrace some form of socialized medicine or government paid health care. I just wanted to track one core statistic in this review. What is the death rate among patients in each of these nations? The table below sets out the numbers.

A quick review shows a trend. Those nations with Single Payer health care system tend to have the highest mortality rates. Now, before you attack me here, I know that this little study does not take into account demographic differences or other possible factors, but the numbers are still pretty stark. France, Italy, Spain, UK and Netherlands all have single payer systems. All of those nations are currently showing the highest mortality rates with the lowest number coming in the UK at over 8.5%. Italy’s mortality rate of 12.07% is nothing less than shocking! At the same time, the lowest mortality rates on this list are in Germany and the United States. Both of those nations have multi-payer systems. Interesting me, is that in the middle we find Belgium and Iran with mortality rates in the 6.2%-6.5% range. Those two nations have healthcare systems that divide the load between partially public systems and private systems.

Even in New York, the hardest area of the United States, the total mortality rate to date is running at 2.66%. Despite fears of equipment and supplies shortages and the potential for the pandemic to overwhelm the hospital systems, New York has adapted and adjusted to the situation keeping the overall death rate lower than any of the European nations that appear on the top 10 list with the exception of Germany. And, New York has a higher total number of cases than any of those nations except Italy and Spain.


Can we make any conclusions? It may be too early in the overall process to make firm conclusions, but it seems to me that there are some possible truths emerging. What stands out most to me is that it appears systems like those in the US and Germany are better able to manage a health care crisis like Corona Virus. In my view what makes this true is the entrepreneurial nature of those systems. Private sector participants are engaged and motivated to produce speedy results that exceed the capability of government to respond. This is happening across the US and, it seems, also in Germany. Only time will tell if this holds true throughout the course of this pandemic. But for now, it is what I see.

CountryFirst CaseTotal CasesTotal DeathsMortality Rate
Italy1/30/2020115,24213,91512.07%
Spain1/31/2020112,06510,3489.23%
USA1/22/2020243,4535,9262.43%
France1/23/202059,9295,3989.01%
China12/30/202082,4323,3224.03%
Iran2/18/202050,4683,1606.26%
UK1/30/202034,1732,9268.56%
Netherlands2/26/202014,7881,3419.07%
Germany1/26/202084,7941,1071.30%
Belgium2/3/02015,3481,0116.59%

Are Voluntary Benefits the Right Solution?

The past few weeks have found me spending most of my time talking with the leaders of small businesses about employee benefits.  The starting place for most of these conversations has been the question, “what can I do about benefits when I don’t have any money in my budget to pay for that”?  It’s a great question and it touches lots of pieces of the small business owner’s team building strategy.

In a recent article Corporate Wellness Magazine hit this topic dead on. (see the article at http://bit.ly/2JHpEWp)  They wrote that the solution for many (most?) small businesses is to offer voluntary benefits.  This is most certainly the right option for almost every small business and there are lots of ways to put them in place.  Here are some things to consider.

  1.  Any business with 3 or more employees is potentially eligible to add voluntary benefits to their benefits plan.
  2. You have a number of options for insurance carriers to find the right fit for your small business.  While we prefer and usually recommend Aflac, they are not always the right solution and we believe every business should have an adviser who brings all of the options to the table.
  3. Voluntary benefits offer flexibility to the team because each individual can choose the benefit options that best meet their budget and best cover their individual or family risk.

Now consider this. Many small business owners in the process of exploring voluntary benefits discover that one of the best ways to attract new talent and reward their current team members is to offer to pay for one or more “supplemental” or “voluntary” products.  And the cost is surprisingly low.  Here’s an example:

We recently worked with a small business (only three employees) to help them develop a benefits strategy.  In the process we helped them figure out where to get health insurance for themselves without paying the high cost of an individual market place plan.  We also helped them review voluntary options with Aflac.  As we were going through those options the business owner had an ahh haa moment.  They realized they could offer every team member Accident/Injury coverage for less than $34.00 per month per employee.  When they did the math they figured out their total cost for this plan was equal to less than .20 cents per hour.  They had been considering offering a .50 cents per hour raise to their team.

The business owner discussed this with the employees and learned, much to their surprise, that the employees would rather have the benefit than the raise.  Why?  The raise, after taxes, would net the average employee somewhere around $18.00 per week.  The insurance plan would give them coverage to protect against accident or injury that could be worth thousands of dollars to the individual employees.  For this team, that mattered more than the small increase in weekly pay.

Here’s the point. Small business owners have options.  Too often the problem is that you don’t know what the options are.  We are here to help with that.  Contact us today to schedule a review of your benefits options. We promise, the time will be well spent.

Cheers,

Kevin

Guess Who’s Having A Baby?

I remember the night I came home and my wife started our dinner conversation with that question.  I immediately thought of our circle of friends wondering which one of them had received the happy news.  I wasn’t prepared for what she said next.  With a huge smile on her face she said “US.”  What? Who? When? Oh my!!  I was shocked, then I was over joyed.  This is what we had always wanted.  It was really happening.  What a blessing.

The next day, sitting at work I began to think about all the things we would have to do to be ready for the baby to arrive.  I started building a to do list.  You can imagine how it went: paint the baby’s room, get a crib, buy baby toys, buy baby clothes, buy life insurance.

Wait, what?  Where did that last item come from? What new dad puts buy life insurance on his new baby to do list?  I did, and here’s why.  I have seen too many times the tragedy that visits a family when something tragic happens and mom or dad are taken from the family.  While we are young we feel invincible, but none of us can predict the day or hour of our death.  Its not something that we keep at the top of our mind, but it should be in our mind and it should be in our preparations.

Life Insurance is a gift of LOVE!  It is one among many ways to show the people who matter in our lives how much they matter to us.  As we approach Valentines Day this year and millions of men and women consider what gifts to give to their romantic partners, consider this.  Prepare for the future economic security of your family now.  Contact me today and let me show you how.

Congress Passes Tax Reduction and Jobs ACT

The US Congress today passed the long awaited tax reduction bill. There has been much discussion of this in the media and on line for the past several months, most of it driven by a media intent on making America believe that the bill would be destructive and give all the perks to the richest Americans. The bill is now approved a set to become law as soon as it is signed.  At first glance, it seems to me there is much in the bill that is good.  There are still a number of things I have questions about.  I wonder what others think about the bill and its provisions.  To help get the discussion moving and keep in it on track, I have provided a link here Policy Summary to a summary of the policy provisions provided by Congress.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.