By Elizabeth Andes, M.D.
The Kansas City Star, Letters, March 8, 2020
Voters have an opportunity to cast votes for presidential candidates with very different solutions to the American health care crisis. Poll after poll show that most voters’ top priority in this election is the cost of health care. This makes sense, given that American health care costs twice that of nations with universal care, while health insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital companies reap huge profits.
The Affordable Care Act included many important improvements, but sidestepped the fundamental drivers of our crisis. Prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D has been a bonanza for Big Pharma, but it included no provisions for reining in costs and profits.
At a time when 68,000 American lives are lost every year from a lack of health care, we can no longer support outrageous corporate profits over people. Opponents of “Medicare for all” ask how we can afford it. A recent study in The Lancet revealed that such a program would reduce costs by 13%.
We can’t afford our current wasteful system of overhead, profit and greed. Only universal coverage can ensure that the United States doesn’t continue to rank dead last among 17 industrialized nations in life expectancy and other health outcomes.
Dr. Elizabeth Andes is the chair of the Kansas City Metro Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program.