By Lynn Moses Yellott
The Journal (Martinsburg, W.Va.), Aug. 14, 2013
My husband, family physician Dr. Chess Yellott, and I celebrated Medicare’s 48th birthday on Capitol Hill, attending a congressional briefing by Dr. Gerald Friedman, University of Massachusetts professor of economics. Friedman showed how the U.S. could save enough — $592 billion in the first year alone — to provide health care for all and eliminate premiums, co-pays, and deductibles by expanding Medicare to everyone. Financing would be entirely tax-based, and 95 percent of us would pay lower taxes for our health care than we now pay in premiums and out of pocket expenses.
Some of the savings from expanding Medicare comes from eliminating private insurance companies, each with their own billing, claims, marketing and huge CEO salaries.
Doctors and hospitals would also save a huge amount on billing and overhead by dealing with only one insurer instead of thousands of different insurance plans. Additional savings would be found in negotiated pharmaceutical prices.
We are often asked “how can you advocate Medicare for all when Medicare will run shortfalls in the near future?”
Because Medicare for all — as embodied in HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act — is so much more administratively efficient (overhead just 1.4 percent of revenues, compared to 20 percent for private plans). It is also better able to control costs than today’s Medicare, by globally budgeting hospitals (that is, eliminating per-patient hospital bills and paying the hospital in lump sums monthly), negotiating reasonable drug prices and negotiating fees with doctors. We could save $1.8 trillion over the next decade alone just through reducing health care costs inflation. This would make Medicare for all sustainable for future generations.
For more information: read the study, www.pnhp.org/system/assets/drupal/Funding HR 676-Friedman-7.31.13-proofed.pdf or the summary, www.pnhp.org/news/2013/july/’medicare-for-all’-would-cover-everyone-save-billions-in-first-year-new-study, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lynn Moses Yellot resides in Shepherdstown.