Single Payer System or Health Care for All!

Sonya Collins

With “Obama Care” plan getting more negative attention and millions of Americans without health insurance, it’s time to zero in on the Single Payer Health Care System or Medicare for all. The president’s health care plan mandates Americans to have health insurance and if they don’t have it, they can be monetarily penalized.

The PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Program) has been trying to promote “Medicare for all” for a long time for the following reasons:

¨ everyone would have automatic coverage

¨ there would be no deductibles, co-pays, etc.

¨ low administrative costs

The US spends more on Health care than the rest of the world. The reason is that private insurers waste health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care; e.g. overhead, underwriting, billing, sales, marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. Doctors and hospitals have to maintain costly administrative staffs to deal with the bureaucracy that consumes 1/3 (31%) of American health dollars. The Single Payer system would provide a potential savings on paperwork to the tune of $400 billion per year which would provide coverage to everyone!

I don’t know why this isn’t getting more attention! The facts are clear. The Single Payer Plan would actually reduce medical costs! Do you realize that medical costs cause 1/2 of all personal bankruptcies? Do you know that the present cost of overhead for insurance companies is 27 to 30% and the overhead cost for Medicare is only 3%?

I advocate for this program, but when I talk to people about it they say things like; the country could not afford it. The fact is the US pays more for health care than other nation, but our infant mortality is higher.

Another comment I’ve heard is you have to wait a long time to have needed tests (they said they had heard that to be a problem in Great Britain and Canada where similar system exists). Well I’ve been on Medicare as secondary coverage for 6 years – I personally never have had to wait for approval from Medicare, but I do often have to wait for approval from my insurance company. My insurance company dictates what medication I can take. Those of you who have insurance can you honestly say you have not had any problems with it? I doubt it.

Probably the worst comment I’ve heard is, “Why should everyone have health insurance? The people that have it work hard for it,” implying everyone has the same opportunity to have a job that includes insurance or that everyone has the ability to afford insurance. Many of the 99% know that’s just not true. There are so many issues affecting the 99%, especially the lack of decent paying jobs, etc. but the cause  I’m talking about is health coverage.

Another frequent comment is that health care is not a constitutional right. Well someone recently said to me, “The constitution states that we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What is the definition of the pursuit of happiness? You could interpret it to mean a lot of things but one interpretation could be to pursue happiness one needs to be healthy. How happy can you be if you are sick?

You know what, do your own research. If you have a computer, go to PNHP. The PNHP program was founded by physicians but its membership includes nurses, FNP’s, etc. and it is supported by the largest union in the country, The National Nurses United in NYC.

Vermont has put the single payer program into effect.  They incorporate federal funds into their program. There is a lot of activity e.g. meetings, forums, talking to physicians, business groups, etc.  happening in many states; Maine, N.Y, Pa, Cal, Hawaii. In Conn. health advocates got the state to drop private insurance from its Medicaid program.

In upstate New York we are somewhat detached from much of the activity groups and organizations that are supporting the 99%. In NYC there are demonstrations and meetings, occurring continuously. We may be detached from the action but not from the effects. We need to join, support, advocate for the 99%!


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