by Dee Newman
As I have reported numerous times on this Blog, polls consistently indicate that though most Americans are relatively satisfied with the quality of their health care, they are extremely unhappy with the cost and the coverage their insurance companies provide.
Accordingly, though the United States spends more per capita on health care than any other major industrialized nation, the for-profit insurance industry is not well liked. In poll after poll the confidence the American people have in their medical safety net ranks near the bottom of those countries with universal health care.
Though Americans are divided along political lines, most Americans no longer believe that the United States health care system is the best in the world. They now recognize the sad and disturbing truth – that the U.S. health care system is both outrageously expensive and inadequate and that the United States must bring its health care costs under control and make it possible for every person in the country to have access to affordable health care.
However, as I have noted before, the for-profit insurance, pharmaceutical, and medical supply coalition stands to lose big time if a single payer, universal health care payment system or even a public option is passed by Congress. This powerful coalition will do whatever it takes to protect their profits for they know that as my daddy use to sarcastically say and as I have stated before here in this Blog, “a pound of cure is far more profitable than an ounce of prevention.”
Unfortunately, Republicans and many Blue-dog Democrats continue to be persuaded by this powerful coalition to believe that the United States’ for-profit health care system is viable, democratic, and efficient despite the fact that in comparative study after study, report after report, the statistics show that the United States ranks at or near the bottom of all the major industrialized nations in the delivery of health care to its citizens; despite the fact that the United States spend more on health care per person, per year than any other nation in the world and continues to lag far behind other industrialized nations on many major health care statistics – such as life expectancy, infant mortality, and immunization rates; and despite the fact that other advanced nations provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, while the U.S. leaves nearly 50 million Americans completely uninsured and millions more inadequately covered.
As I have stated before, contrary to what opponents fear and believe, single payer, universal health care is not socialized medicine. It is a health care payment system. It is not a health care delivery system and is no more socialized medicine than the public funding of the defense department is socialized defense.
Unlike the current managed care system here in the U.S. which mandates pre-approval of the insurer for services and which takes health care decisions away from the doctor and patient and gives it to a for-profit corporate bureaucrat, a single payer, universal health care system would not.
Financing a single-payer system would be done by eliminating private insurers and recapturing their administrative waste.
A small increase in taxes would replace premiums and out-of-pocket payments currently paid by individuals and business.
Costs would be controlled through negotiated fees, mass purchasing, and universal budgeting.
In closing, over 40 years ago, the so-called socialized health care system for the elderly, Medicare, was created by Congress. It was very controversial. Many of the same arguments and deceptive tactics used by opponents of single-payer, universal care today were utilized back then to try to prevent the passing of the Medicare legislation.
At that time, the poorest of the poor here in the United States of America were, more often than not, the oldest Americans. More than half of them had no health care coverage at all.
Today, the Medicare system has been universally accepted. In fact, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find any politician who advocates getting rid of it.
The time has come – not just for the elderly, the young, and members of Congress – but for all Americans to have universal health care. And, health care that no longer waste billions of health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: underwriting, billing, sales and marketing, as well as, huge profits and exorbitant executive pay.