Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Open Letter to the President

I just sent the following letter to President Obama.

Dear President Obama,

The reason your poll numbers have fallen is not because Republicans and the health insurance industry have persuaded a significant number of Americans that your health care reforms go too far, it is because folks like me who supported and voted for you are disappointed that your health care reforms do not go far enough.

The insurance companies are framing the debate in Congress.

You and the Democrats in Congress have not given H.R. 676, a single-payer health-care system, a fair hearing.

As you know, in the U.S. today we spend approximately two times as much as other industrialized nations, over $7,000 per person per year, yet have nearly 50 million Americans uninsured.

We are the only industrialized nation that does not have a single-payer system. Instead our system is based on privately owned for-profit insurance companies.

In the average private health insurance company, one-third of the money paid in premiums is used for "administrative costs" – paying for things like sales and marketing, lobbying and huge executive salaries, bonuses, and profits for their shareholders. And, not for providing health care.

In addition, hospitals, nursing homes and physicians need to employ large staffs just to negotiate the maze of rules and regulations from multiple insurance companies.

Adding a "public option" will only increase that maze.

By eliminating these multiple insurance companies and going to a single-payer system, the cost savings to the system would be more than $350 billion each year.

Most people don't realize that the government plan we all know best, Medicare, runs at about 2 to 3 percent overhead while most private for-profit HMOs run 20 to 30 percent overhead, and the Canadian system has only 1 percent overhead.

As President you must educate folks to the fact that a government run system is, and would be far more efficient than a private for-profit system is or will every be.

In a single-payer system the American people and our employers would pay taxes instead of premiums. These taxes would amount to a mere fraction of what we are use to paying in insurance premiums. And, we would get more for our buck. Our taxes would pay for literally all of our health needs – from glasses to dental care to medical and surgical care.

The large cost savings of a single-payer system would come by buying in bulk and demanding volume discounts – greatly decreasing the cost of medication.

The VA system in the United States gets a 40 percent reduction in medicine costs over what most Americans pay.

A single-payer system would also greatly increase the country's access to preventative care. This in turn would reduce the inappropriate overuse of highly costly emergency rooms. Having diseases diagnosed earlier and treated appropriately will vastly decrease the overall cost of treatment.

While doctors and hospitals would be paid somewhat less, their costs of doing business would be dramatically reduced since there would be a very low cost to billing and administration, and providers would get paid more quickly and reliably.

There also would be improvements to our actual patient care with a single-payer system. Having only one payer would allow us to use a unified computer system. A single computer system would allow Doctors and hospitals to have all the information they need at their finger tips to treat us safely with fewer medical errors.

I strongly encourage you to consider supporting H.R. 676, the single-payer system that will fundamentally eliminate a huge waste of health-care dollars and restore our health-care system.

Thank you,
Dee Newman

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