Why not Medicare for All?

“I don’t want my taxes to increase”; “I don’t want to lose my current insurance”; “I don’t want the government involved in or interfering in my health care”.

Above are some of the comments I’ve heard from folks in response to the proposal that we eliminate for profit private insurance coverage and replace it with guaranteed government sponsored, not for profit coverage for every American.

Considering that our present privatized health coverage has left millions of Americans without insurance as well as millions who have reached the point where they can no longer afford the premiums, it surprises me that so many people are unwilling to support such a change. As a result, the candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are advocating Medicare for All, have suffered a loss of support according to the surveys being conducted.

Allow me to share my own personal experience. I am currently 84 years old and have dealt with heart problems since the age of 37. In the past 15 years, I have been hospitalized numerous times for extended periods of time, placed in rehab facilities twice for extended time and have had several surgical procedures performed. Without Medicare I would have been bankrupted many years ago or I would be dead because of my inability to pay for the many services I received. Did I have private insurance? Of course. But their coverage would have left me with tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Medicare is not perfect, but it covers 80% of medical expenses, allows me to choose my own doctors (not all doctors accept Medicare coverage) and pays for a large percentage of my life saving medications. In other words, Medicare has allowed my life to be extended while allowing me to remain financially solvent.

YES, your taxes will increase. Like Social Security, money will be withheld from every paycheck to cover the cost of the services provided by Medicare. However, let’s look beneath the increase in taxes and recognize the savings to be experienced with Medicare.

For example, over 30% of medical costs go to administrative expenses. All insurance companies have their own forms, procedures, applications, and staff to review coverage requests. With dozens of insurance companies to answer to, doctors often find themselves engaged in negotiations attempting to get coverage for their patients for much needed medical interventions. Medicare would remove a large percent of that cost… there would be one system with one procedure.

Also, the withholding costs or taxes would be less costly than the premium paid to for profit insurance companies. Many people allow the idea of increased taxes influence their perceptions but, if the increased taxes you will be asked to pay are less than the premium you must pay for private, for profit, insurance coverage, isn’t it worth it?

Many people are troubled by the thought that the government will interfere with decisions made between the doctor and his/her patients. At the same time, they are willing to accept the decisions for treatment being made by the CEOs of companies whose main mission is to show a profit to their shareholders. Whose judgement would you rather trust?

Medicare has worked beautifully for men and women above the age of 65. The main thrust for proposing Medicare for All is to ensure that everyone has health insurance at the lowest possible cost. The US is the only country in the so-called 1st world, (Western European and Canada) that does not offer health insurance to all its citizens. Chew on that.

It is ludicrous to allow and accept the privatization of health insurance and health services, services which often mean the difference between life and death as well as quality of life. Private corporations’ main motivation for existence is to show a profit at the end of the day. Not only must the government control the insurance aspect of health care, it must also be allowed to eliminate private hospitals where medical services are often determined by the bottom line. In other words, socialized medicine is the answer to the many problems that exist in the healthcare industry.

Privatization DOES NOT mean greater efficiency, better service, and a better product. It merely indicates that the price we pay will include a profit margin.

Dave Alpert has master’s degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner-city adolescents.

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