By Herbert S. Strauss, M.D.
Times Union (Albany, N.Y.), Letters, Feb. 21, 2016
Raising taxes has been the third rail of American politics. Large segments of our political establishment, including Hillary Clinton, oppose the Medicare-like single-payer health care system advocated by Bernie Sanders because it entails raising taxes. What is largely ignored is that the country as a whole would save significant sums by doing away with the costly for-profit health insurance industry, for-profit medicine and the excessive cost of prescription drugs. An unwieldy bureaucracy and hopelessly complex financial arrangements have contributed to the high costs.
The average citizen, even while paying moderately higher income taxes, would save money because he would not have to pay the ever-rising insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles. Even when people are covered for health insurance by their employer, they are burdened by their ever-increasing share of the soaring costs.
All the major industrial countries in the world provide universal health care coverage for all their citizens without the use of for-profit insurance companies, and their per-person health care cost is a fraction of ours. Our own health care cost is rising annually beyond of inflation. Our present system is unsustainable.
The obvious reason why many influential segments oppose single-payer is that increased taxes would disproportionately affect the wealthy, particularly the super rich. During the past decades, a profound wealth redistribution has taken place, largely due to large, unjustifiable tax breaks to the wealthy, engineered by legislators who are beholden to them. The wealthy can well afford a tax increase somewhat in excess of what they otherwise would have to spend for their health care.
The taxes for financing a cost efficient universal health care system would be profoundly beneficial for our country.
Dr. Herbert S. Strauss resides in Saratoga Springs.