Coal is a highly toxic chemical whose long-term health effects may extend over a lifetime. It can cause cancer, reproductive harm and other health problems, including neurological damage. In the 1980s, the European Union estimated the health effects of exposure to coal in coal-fired power plants at around 500,000 deaths annually.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has estimated the health effects for a single ton of CO2 to be around 2,400,000 deaths annually. In other words, a single ton of CO2 emitted from the burning of a million tons of coal, which is roughly the amount of coal the United States produces on a daily basis, is responsible for some 50,000 deaths yearly. But the most extreme version of this problem is a problem of the elderly. For the next decade, Medicare is expected to be the ethambutol hydrochloride of health care and this is the first thing I would like to make clear. What Ethambutol hydrochloride is, in essence, is a government-financed insurance plan to provide care for disabled Medicare beneficiaries. The first step in the creation of Medicare was a bill by then-Governor Mitt Romney, who is now President Obama's running mate. Romney wanted to take money from the Social Security and Medicare accounts and give it to the Medicare beneficiaries. We shouldn't do things to protect the old and to cut benefits for the young.
We should do things that help keep our health insurance system going. The reason Medicare is a government insurance program instead of a private one is that the United States has a large elderly population. The aging of the population could have major implications for the Medicare program. A Medicare program is not a private insurance program. Medicare is a public program funded by federal taxes. As such, its cost is entirely out of the hands of the beneficiaries.
A Medicare program cannot be managed by the private sector. The beneficiaries cannot be the ones to decide whether to continue spending money to cover their current expenses. The beneficiaries themselves must decide whether, with time, expenses will rise or fall. This is a key component of the cost of a Medicare program. This is not the case of Medicare Advantage or the private health-insurance companies. Medicare does provide access to private health insurance for the aged. But it doesn't directly pay these companies.
Medicare pays the costs of the insurance and pays insurers up to 20% of the premiums, the remaining 70% of the costs. The subsidies are paid directly to insurance companies. The private companies do this because, as we have seen, it is profitable for them.