By Dr. Arthur J. Sutherland III
The Commercial Appeal, June 19, 2016
MEMPHIS — Your June 12 guest column by BlueCross BlueShield CEO J.D. Hickey was a lot of crying about how BCBS cannot afford to cover Tennessee patients in their marketplace insurance plans in 2017 (“Marketplace model means high costs in Tenn”). But what he didn’t say was that the insurance industry is part of the problem.
The U.S. is the only developed country in the world that does not have a national health insurance program. We have a market-based system that has become the most expensive in the world because of the excessive costs and waste involved with private insurers and suppliers.
We are ranked 37th in the world in the quality of health care delivery in spite of having an abundance of resources (e.g. highly trained health care providers, plenty of hospital beds and sophisticated technology).
The political process is moving toward a major modification of the health care system. Public health experience instructs us that a single-payer national health insurance plan can heal the dysfunctional contemporary system and spare us the vagaries, often cruel, of marketplace gambles.
If Medicare was improved and changed, everyone would be automatically covered for all necessary medical services. The savings of a single-payer system would amount to $400 billion in administrative waste redirected to care, with no net increase in health spending.
Patients would be allowed free choice of their doctors and hospital. Premiums and out-of pocket costs would be replaced with progressive income and wealth taxes. Ninety-five percent of Americans would pay less for health care than they do now.