By Kathleen Healey, M.D.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 9, 2020
Americans are threatened by a COVID-19 pandemic and over 27 million of us have no health insurance. What could possibly go wrong? During an outbreak of a communicable disease we are all safer if everyone around us has access to health care.
Many people delay medical evaluations and care because of cost, which would be disastrous in a public health emergency. Lack of insurance prematurely kills 45,000 of us every year, and causes hospital closures.
For the insured, medical debt and surprise bills could be the second wave of a crisis. Our neighbor Canada and most European countries enjoy national insurance systems that cover everyone from birth to death, at half the cost of what we pay per person. Our private insurances are expensive for families and businesses and additional costs are passed on to us in copays and deductibles.
Money is removed from the health care dollar for profit, advertising, and complex administrative systems. All of us need health care and health care is local. We don’t need the expensive middleman. Support single payer/Medicare for all for public health and the common good. It is affordable and it works.