By Joseph Sparks
Washington Post, Letters, March 22, 2021
The March 15 editorial “Moving closer to universal health care” pointed out flaws in the Affordable Care Act and correctly praised the coronavirus relief bill for its expanded coverage, and it will help a bit.
If the notion behind the ACA changes is “that the government should ensure that all Americans can buy quality coverage they can afford,” this bill does not do that. Coverage does not equate to affordable health care, as the tens of millions of people who are underinsured can attest to. Under the relief bill, an individual who made $58,000 a year would see his or her yearly insurance cost decrease from $12,900 a year to $4,950 a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. No mention was made of what out-of-pocket costs would be, which could still leave tens of millions underinsured. One proposal for Medicare-for-all estimates that this same individual would pay about $1,824 per year in extra taxes with no premiums or other extra costs.
Incremental fixes to the ACA won’t ensure that all Americans can afford to get the medical care they need when they need it, but Medicare-for-all would.
The writer is host and producer of the “Medicare for All, Explained” podcast, a collaboration with Physicians for a National Health Program.