By Joan A. MacEachen, M.D., M.P.H.
The Journal (Cortez, Colo.), January 16
Health insurance is supposed to protect us from debilitating medical bills. But many of my patients find that when they need care, commercial insurance does not provide adequate protection. Even though they paid thousands of dollars in premiums and deductibles, patients still get stuck with huge surprise bills after a hospital visit.
This is real money for working families: The average surprise bill for emergency care is $628, and more than $2,000 for hospital admission. The vast majority of households filing for medical bankruptcy had commercial insurance at the time of treatment.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Single-payer Medicare for All would eliminate both networks and bills by giving patients free choice of virtually any doctor or hospital, and by paying providers directly for the full cost of care. It really is that simple.
Some politicians think we should settle for a Band-aid plan like a public option, which would only preserve the waste and complexity of our health system, not to mention the scourge of surprise bills and medical bankruptcy.
My patients deserve better. As a doctor, I prescribe Medicare for All.