By Joan MacEachen, M.D.
Deseret News, Letters, July 23, 2019
The 54th anniversary of Medicare affords an opportunity to evaluate the successes and shortcomings of the system of health care in America. I have worked in rural hospitals and clinics for 34 years and see Medicare as the shining example of an equitable and humane method of providing clinic visits, medications and hospital services.
Once people enter their mid-60s they come to a clinic to address the neglected health problems that they couldn’t afford before they qualified for Medicare. In contrast I see younger adults and families struggle and sacrifice to make the rising payments for insurance bills, cut back on medications which they can’t afford or wait to address medical problems till they become emergencies.
A Medicare for all system would provide a proven system to allow these families to have the good health to remain the backbone of our Social Security system. Medicare for all would be especially beneficial to rural and other underserved communities. Many rural hospitals have closed in recent years, significantly overburdened by administrative strains — eating up more than a quarter (25.3%) of hospital budgets.
Medicare for all would cut hospital administrative costs by funding them through global budgets, similar to the way we fund fire and police departments. Instead of billing hundreds of insurers, hospitals would be guaranteed stable funding to meet community health needs. The solution to our health care crisis has been here all along. Medicare, now 54 years old, is popular, efficient and proven to improve seniors’ health.
Dr. Joan A. MacEachen resides in Durango, Colorado.