By Eric Salk, M.D.
The New York Times, Letters, March 21, 2018
To the Editor:
Re: “Why Is U.S. Health Care So Expensive? Some of the Reasons You’ve Heard Turn Out to Be Myths” (The Upshot, March 13):
It’s true that “analysts are fond of describing the system as wasteful, with too many patients getting too many services.” But those of us on the front lines know that large segments of the population have no real access to quality medical care, and even those with “good insurance” struggle through a maze of barriers and increased costs.
The United States has some of the highest administrative costs in the world because of our fractured, multipayer, profit-based system. Private insurers add zero value but drive up costs through administrative waste and profiteering, and require hospitals and doctors to maintain complex billing and cost-tracking bureaucracies.
While no system is perfect, we have an excellent solution in the form of Medicare. A single-payer plan like H.R. 676, “Medicare for All,” could save an estimated $617 billion a year by slashing administrative waste in the private insurance industry ($504 billion) and bargaining down drug prices ($113 billion), freeing up money for universal coverage without any net increase in health spending.
Dr. Salk is medical director of emergency medicine at the Charlotte Hungerford Hospital.