By: Bob Hanson
Most of us here in Rossmoor don’t have a big problem about how to pay for our medical bills. Medicare is a blessing for those of us over 65. I hesitate to think of what my financial situation would be if I had had to pay for the quadruple bi-pass heart surgery I had five years ago this month. I certainly would have had to file for bankruptcy and my wife and I probably would have lost our home. I guess most conservatives would then have said: “tough bananas, Hanson…you should have saved more money during your working years.” It’s your own fault that you are now homeless.
Actually, I think even most of my Republican neighbors will admit that Medicare for senior citizens is a good thing. I haven’t heard of anyone refusing it out of principle. So why won’t the Republicans who now control Congress and the presidency consider Medicare For All, otherwise known as the single-payer plan? You guessed it…”We can’t afford it.” This is what they say. The real reason that they won’t consider single payer is that it would jeopardize the profits of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries-major campaign contributors.
It is common knowledge that we pay more for medical expenses than any other nation on Earth while achieving only average results. Life expectancy here is lower than in most advanced countries.
So, where should the dollars come from to fund “Medicare For All?” Thought you would never ask. I would like to say, we can save $13 billion by building one less aircraft carrier or maybe a trillion dollars over the next 30 years by eliminating our now illegal nuclear arms arsenal, instead of “modernizing it.” But actually, single payer will save enough money to ensure everyone. By eliminating the health insurance industry, we save $350 billion a year in administrative costs and profit. Don’t shed your tears for Etna and Blue Shield…their execs will be able to retire handsomely on the huge salaries they have received in recent years. A myth is that our children will pay more in taxes for single payer than they are paying for private health insurance now. Sure, taxes will have to go up. But the average family will pay less in new taxes than they will save by not having to buy health insurance. (Did you know that the top one percent of Americans own 40% of the nation’s wealth? Maybe our millionaires could contribute a bit more for the common good.)
Big Pharma will not enjoy having to deal with the bargaining power of the government. For example, the Veteran’s Administration gets a 40% discount on drugs because of their volume. Everyone knows that you can save money by buying your prescriptions in Canada. Why? Their single-payer system.
You have probably heard that single payer would lead to rationing. Right now, health insurance companies ration health care. The Canadian single payer program is not perfect, but most of the negative things you hear about it are health insurance industry propaganda. I have talked with several Canadians who all maintain that their system is preferable to ours.
Contrary to what the insurers would have you believe, single payer is not government-run health care, any more than Medicare is government-run health care. Your children and grandchildren will be able to go to any doctor or hospital in the U.S. Doctors will not be employees of the government.
In Canada, single payer was adapted province by province. It may well have to be instigated here state by state. California is close to being the first state to move on it. Let your representatives and the governor know that you support the idea. If Medicare is a good idea, why not make the system available for all?