By Richard A. Damon, M.D.
Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle, March 28, 2017
You do not have to be an economist to know the GOP “American Health Care Act” would fail from the beginning.
Policy makers refuse to control the insurance industry. They believe, after more than two decades of failure, the market will control costs by considering health a commodity. That’s the basic flaw in both the ACA and the 2017 GOP American Health Care Act. Parts of the ACA that Americans want as benefits are important. They are the same parts that would be included in a publicly financed National Health Program that would fully cover Medical Care for all Americans, H.R. 676. The 2017 GOP plan does not regulate rising insurance premiums, and changes Medicaid coverage making 24 million Americans worse off, while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.
The complex multi-payer insurance finance system, comprised of hundreds of different insurance companies is and has been the major flaw in U.S. health care for decades. Multiple insurers operate with overwhelming administrative costs, large CEO salaries and bonuses, seek ways to insure only the healthiest people, avoid the sickest, and restrict coverage for costly illnesses. The corporate mandate that insurance premiums must cover enrollee benefits, profits, CEO bonuses, stockholder profits, and massive administrative costs, calls forth perverse and fraudulent practices by insurance companies to do whatever is necessary to preserve the all mighty bottom line.
The result is that individual policy holders, under an employer plan or not, pay deductibles, co-pays, and are forced to select coverage they can barely afford, which may turn out to be inadequate when illness hits. Many Americans go without coverage. Many Americans go bankrupt from medical costs. Many Americans die from not being able to access care. It’s time to change this unjust inequality. Insist on expanded and improved Medicare for all now.