By Caroline Poplin, M.D.
The New York Times, Letters, March 3, 2017
Re: “The Hole Republicans Dug” (column, Feb. 28):
David Leonhardt is right. If Republicans want to provide health insurance through “free market” competition, their solution will have the same problems as the Affordable Care Act: Healthy, low-risk families will be forced to buy costly policies more expensive than they need, to cover the expenses of the 5 percent of people responsible for some 50 percent of health care costs, with money left over for insurer profits.
A significant infusion of federal money will be required, contrary to Republican philosophy. If the government pays less, people will have to pay more; insurers or providers must accept less; or people will lose coverage. There is no way to square this circle.
What Americans want and need is not affordable health insurance, but necessary health care. Our fundamental problem is that American health care is expensive, which reduces access. Insurers have done little to reduce cost — look at the skyrocketing prices of drugs — and instead have probably increased it.
If we want all Americans to get the health care they need, the only system we can afford is some version of Medicare for all, with negotiated or regulated prices, just like the rest of the developed world.
Caroline Popline, M.D., J.D., is a primary care physician. She resides in Bethesda, Md.