Single-Payer Health Insurance: Less Expensive and More Humane.
SINGLE-PAYER (MEDICARE FOR ALL) WOULD BE LESS EXPENSIVE.
We can afford to offer comprehensive medical care to everyone free at the point of service, because single-payer insurance would bring about a tremendous reduction in healthcare spending compared to our current insurance structure. This is the consensus finding of academic studies of the question; estimates of cost reduction range up to 15% of current spending (1). US healthcare spending in 2019 was $3.8 Trillion, or $11,582 per person (2), so a savings of 15% would represent $570 Billion ($1,737 per capita) each year. This savings would stay in the pockets of individuals, employers, and governments that currently share the burden of cost. Savings would come from reduced administrative overhead (~$220B), negotiating lower pharmaceutical prices (~$180B), and reduced reimbursement rates (~$100B); importantly, this reduced reimbursement for providers and hospitals would be more than offset by providers’ reduced spending on administrative costs (3).
SINGLE-PAYER (MEDICARE FOR ALL) WOULD SAVE LIVES:
Particularly in light of the tremendously lower cost associated with single-payer insurance, we should feel a moral imperative to implement it. Approximately one in every four Americans are unable to afford needed medical care or prescription medicines (4). This includes many individuals with insurance, because of the high deductible costs. A staggering 530,000 bankruptcies are filed per year because of medical debt, representing ⅔ of all bankruptcies in the US (5). Many of these are folks with inadequate insurance - more than 40% of American adults are underinsured, meaning healthcare costs remain unaffordable despite having health insurance because of deductibles, co-pays, and other costs (6). When you consider the number of Americans for whom comprehensive medical care is unaffordable, it is little surprise that an estimated 68,000 lives could be saved every year by switching to universal single-payer Medicare for All (7).
SINGLE PAYER (MEDICARE FOR ALL) HAS MAJORITY SUPPORT AMONG VOTERS
Since Bernie Sanders historic 2016 campaign for president, a majority of Americans have favored a single-payer national health insurance government plan, AKA Medicare for All (8), which was a centerpiece of Bernie’s campaign. Estimates of current support among the public are as high as two out of every three Americans (9). Among registered Republicans the current level of support is as high as 52% and among Democrats, as high as 85% (10). Multiple progressive organizations have long called for enactment of single-payer health insurance, including the AFL-CIO and the United Steelworker’s Association (11). People in grassroots advocacy organizations in every state are working to advance the issue, including several here in Connecticut such as Medicare for All CT (12) and Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP-CT) (13). In the US House of Representatives, the current version of Medicare for All Legislation (HR1976) has 115 co-sponsors (14), but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) does not support the legislation, and so it will not be called for a vote; she has said she is ‘not a fan’ and misleadingly alleged that “It is expensive.” (15).
REP. DELAURO DOES NOT SUPPORT SINGLE-PAYER HEALTHCARE, BUT I DO.
Representative DeLauro, like Nancy Pelosi, does not support single-payer Medicare for All; instead, she has a similarly named plan (“Medicare for America”) that aims to expand coverage but maintain a large role for private for-profit insurance (16). One major drawback to this plan is that of course by maintaining a complex system that retains multiple private insurance companies as we have now, we will not realize the tremendous cost savings associated with Medicare for All. As Adam Gaffney, president of Physicians for a National Health Plan, has said about Rep. Pelosi’s plan: “The shenanigans and gaming of wasteful privatized Medicare plans have drained the public purse for decades. The excess administrative costs, and profits, imposed by our fragmented system produce hundreds of billions of dollars in waste. And patients are ill-served by narrow networks of providers, and by copays and deductibles, all of which would be retained under this plan.” (16). In contrast to Medicare for All’s 115 cosponsors, which is more than half of the 220 Democrats in the117th US House of Representatives, Rep DeLauro’s “Medicare for America” bill only garnered only twenty five (17).
"Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access the health care they need regardless of their income. The only long-term solution to America's health care crisis is a single-payer national health care program." ~ Sen. Bernie Sanders
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