An Open Letter to the Congress and People of the United States
May 21, 2019
As economists, we understand that a single-payer “Medicare for All” health insurance system for the U.S. can finance good-quality care for all U.S. residents as a basic right while still significantly reducing overall health care spending relative to the current exorbitant and wasteful system. Health care is not a service that follows standard market rules. It should therefore be provided as a public good.
Evidence from around the world demonstrates that publicly financed health care systems result in improved health outcomes, lower costs, and greater equity. As of 2017, the U.S. spent $3.3 trillion annually on health care. This equaled 17 percent of U.S. GDP, with average spending at about $10,000 per person. By contrast, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, the U.K., Australia, Spain and Italy spent between 9 – 11 percent of GDP on health care, averaging $3,400 to $5,700 per person. Yet average health outcomes in all of these countries are superior to those in the United States. In all of these countries, the public sector is predominant in financing heath care.
For these reasons the time is now to create a universal, single-payer, Medicare for All health care system in the United States.
Public financing for health is not a matter of raising new money for healthcare, but of reducing total healthcare outlays and distributing payments more equitably and efficiently. Implementing a unified single-payer system would reduce administrative costs and eliminate individuals’ and employers’ insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. If combined with public control of drug prices and a dramatically simplified global budgeting system, a sensible Medicare financing system would reduce healthcare costs while guaranteeing access to comprehensive care and financial security to all.
As such, we support publicly and equitably financed health care through a Medicare for All system at the Federal level, as described in H.R. 1384 and S. 1129. We encourage Congress to move forward with implementing a public financed Medicare for All plan to achieve the equitable and affordable universal health care system that the American people need.
219 Economists (Use following link for list)
Release – National Economic and Social Rights Initiative:
House Budget Committee hearing: Key Design Components and Considerations for Establishing a Single-Payer Health Care System; Wednesday, May 22, 2019 – 10:00am EDT:
By Don McCanne, M.D.
This open letter signed by 219 economists was sent to Members of Congress ahead of the House Budget Committee’s hearing on Medicare for All to be held today, May 22. Of major significance is that it calls specifically for the single payer model of Medicare for All, citing single payer bills that have been introduced in the House (H.R. 1384 – Jayapal) and Senate (S. 1129 – Sanders).
The letter does not endorse public option models mislabeled as Medicare for All, nor does it endorse mere patches to the Affordable Care Act. It states, “the time is now to create a universal, single-payer, Medicare for All health care system in the United States.”
Stay informed! Visit www.pnhp.org/qotd to sign up for daily email updates.