Letter: Time to get real about health care

We currently spend $3.7 trillion per year on health care in the U.S. Our total GDP is $21.5 trillion. For every $6 spent in this country, $1 is spent on health care. We spend about twice as much per person as other developed countries. The problem is, we get average outcomes. We pay twice as much for average care. This is not sustainable. This is a huge drag on our economy and on individuals.

Quit pretending Medicare for All is extremist, radical communism. How can the majority position be radical or extremist? A total of 70 percent of citizens including over 50 percent of Republicans want Medicare for All. Our elected representatives should do the people’s will. A system operated by for-profit providers, not employed by the government, like our current Medicare providers, isn’t communism. It is only feared by those currently making obscene profits. Remember, Social Security and Medicare were also demonized as communism.

Medicare for All can’t cost more than our current system as evidenced by all the countries that have single-payer managed care, get better outcomes, and pay about half what we do. We already have the most expensive system in the world. Under the current system 62 percent of bankruptcies are due to medical expenses. Is this what we should fight to preserve?

A single-payer could bargain for better prices on drugs, procedures and fees. It would eliminate the portion going to for-profit insurance companies. This is already happening in Medicare; that is why it costs less. There is near universal agreement that total costs would go down with Medicare for All.

Medicare is more user friendly, offers greater personal choice than insurance programs. It is more secure; people changing or losing jobs do not lose coverage and pre-existing conditions are covered. If people were allowed access to such a system, interest in private and employer-sponsored health insurance would soon disappear. It would be self-limiting.

Part of the transition must be that money employers are currently paying toward employee insurance must go to the employees as increased income. This would cost the employer nothing. It would offset any increase in taxes needed to fund the new system. There would be no net cost to individuals. There would be no premiums, paycheck subtractions, deductibles or copays. A small copay could be applied to curb abuse if needed.

Our current system averages $1,000 per person per month. We don’t need to fear a more user-friendly system, offering increased flexibility, covers everyone and costing less, simply because it is paid for through taxes. A tax-funded system would have a slight leveling effect on income inequality because the rich would pay more than those who can afford it least. It is all being paid for now, there would be no additional costs. There is significant opportunity for cost controls. 

Do you know anyone who would give up Medicare? How many people are happy with the current system? We can do better.

Bryan Van Gorp