By Judy Dasovich, M.D.
The Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 2, 2017
Americans know we need affordable, accessible, quality health care. Our current system relies on private insurance which provides none of these things. Improved and expanded Medicare for all can give us the tools we need to move towards these goals.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that people buy an expensive, defective product which enriches corporations, executives and shareholders using tax payers’ money. Those who do have insurance often can’t afford the premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. If the ACA is fully implemented, 25 million people will be without health insurance. Many states, like Missouri, have not expanded Medicaid, which excludes even more people.
The ACA has made medical care more accessible, but not nearly accessible enough. Because it is based on a profit driven system, it cannot control costs or ensure quality.
Cost savings will be substantial if we get profit out of health financing. Traditional Medicare’s overhead is less than 3 percent compared with around 15 percent for private insurance companies. There are no Medicare professionals making multi-million dollar salaries and no shareholders expecting profits.
As important is the freedom it would provide — freedom from insurance companies’ narrow and restrictive networks, freedom to choose our own doctors and hospitals. Providers would compete on quality and affordability.
Some individuals may pay more in taxes with Medicare for all but total spending on health care would be less for the majority. University of Massachusetts economist Dr. Gerald Friedman’s study from 2013 shows that only those with incomes in the top 5 percent will pay more under expanded Medicare; 95% of us will pay less and have higher net incomes.
The money that is spent will be used for actual care instead of enriching unnecessary middlemen. Business people can focus on their businesses instead of health care financing. Hospitals and providers will continue to operate privately. It is only the funding mechanism that is changed, improved, and expanded — from senior citizens to all of us.
Medicare is a popular program that has worked well for American seniors and entire countries like Canada, Australia and Taiwan. Other industrialized countries pay about half of what we do and provide more care to more people while producing better outcomes. All have some form of financing that makes health care more affordable and accessible. No system is perfect, but other countries’ systems outperform the expensive, complex, profit driven one forced upon us here.
This newspaper reported on Senator McCaskill’s April town hall meeting in Springfield. She said that Medicare for all is “too expensive and not realistic.” Other countries’ and our own American experience with Medicare have proven her wrong. Senator Blunt and Representative Long support the current Republican position, which continues to support the business of private health insurance.
Once again, our national legislators are partnering with private health insurance companies behind closed doors. Isn’t it time they listen to us instead of their corporate benefactors? Tell your congress people you support H.R. 676 — the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. Everybody in, nobody out!