By Ken Lefkowitz
The Washington Post, Letters, July 8, 2021
Regarding the July 2 Politics & the Nation article “New rules are issued to protect patients from surprise medical billing”:
The new Biden administration rules to protect patients against “surprise billing” for out-of-network services is commendable, but their impact on medical costs will most certainly be diluted. Health insurers’ networks are negotiated so the insurer can save costs in our free-market, for-profit health-care system. We can expect that to counter the savings lost by insurers under the new rules, health-care providers will turn to another avenue to make up for the reduced profits, such as increasing premiums for coverage.
It is time to stop tweaking our for-profit system and implement Medicare-for-all, a cost-effective single-payer approach. It will cover all residents with no networks, premiums, deductibles or co-pays. It has proved to be less costly in other countries. It will wring out the duplicative and wasteful administrative costs of the free marketplace and provide negotiating leverage to stabilize doctors, hospitals and pharmacy costs. Three major studies — one by the University of Massachusetts, one published in the Lancet and another appearing in the Annals of Medicine — have estimated annual savings on health-care spending between $500 billion and $600 billion per year if Medicare-for-all were adopted.
The writer is a member of the New Jersey Universal Healthcare Coalition and Physicians for a National Health Program.