OpEdNews Op Eds 9/14/2018 at 17:21:35

By Egberto Willies 

I got a call from a Politics Done Right listener who said he heard that Single-Payer Medicare for All would increase the taxes of most people and it would increase government expenditures. I told him that in fact, it would raise taxes for most but that is not the whole story. To be clear, every individual will be better off for precise reasons.

Here is an absolute statement. If one entity is paying our medical bills, it is much more efficient than having multiple companies do it. Let's say we have 100 health insurance companies. When you add that each company has to have its own executives, a board of directors, advertising budgets, capital costs, computer equipment, accountants, risk managers, and a myriad of other expenses, it illustrates what we actually see, expensive insurance. If there is one payer that covers everybody, Single-Payer Medicare for All, then all those duplicated costs go away, and some functions are virtually unnecessary.

Private insurance companies also have shareholders. Shareholders demand dividends and ever-expanding stock appreciation at a higher rate than inflation or a higher rate than the expanding economy. That is one reason among many others why health insurance rates increase faster than inflation. This same issue applies to pharmaceutical companies who raise rates not to create better drugs but to ensure better value for their shareholders and corporate bonuses.-

I gave the caller a hypothetical example for illustrative purposes to counter the fallacy that somehow Single-Payer Medicare for All is detrimental to the individual. The opposite is true. Again, the numbers I am using are just for illustrative purposes as the real numbers are dependent on the basic services that will form part of the new system.

A family making $50,000 may pay $5,000 in Federal Income Taxes and $12,000 in health insurance -- that $12,000 goes to an insurance company. That insurance usually has anywhere from a $500 to $10,000 deductible. There are traditionally copays associated with it as well. So even with this insurance and level of payments, if one uses health care, they can still be relegated to bankruptcy. In effect, out of pocket expenditures for health care and taxes can leave little for all other standard household and living expenses.

Single-Payer Medicare for All simplifies everything and cost less in the aggregate. That same person would still pay that $5,000 in Federal Income Tax. They may then pay, who knows, $5,000 in health care taxes. The taxes would actually be progressive, meaning if you make less you pay less. If you make more, you pay more. Every single American would have access to health care without concern for deductibles. One could actually plan their life without the fear of worrying that if they get sick their entire outcome changes including the possibility of bankruptcy.

Some balk at this as being too utopian. Where is the money going to come from? First of all, doctors' offices will no longer have to have large staffs to handle the fight with dozens of insurance companies. That means lower cost for office visits. Additional money comes from not having to pay shareholder dividends, overpriced executives, bonuses, and all the duplicate expenditures we spoke about earlier. But that is only the beginning.

As you move towards Single-Payer Medicare for All, we must start other reforms. It won't be easy because all of the stakeholders, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, etc. will fight to keep their cash cow.

Most drugs are not discovered or designed or invented by huge pharmaceuticals who continue to loot the middle-class. They are created with NIH grants at Universities and elsewhere. When it is time to formalize them as drugs for the masses, capitalists buy and then overcharge for these drugs. Ironically, the government, you the taxpayer who paid to develop the drugs in the first place, do not partake of the profits. Drug companies want large rewards, large profits, with no real risk. We must rein this in sooner rather than later.

Many doctors leave school with hundreds of thousands in debt. We must institute some sort of merit system that allows doctors to go to medical school for free and then pay it forward by dedicating some years in the public sector. We must regulate hospitals to prevent them from charging inordinate rates just because they think they can.

Our health care system needs a complete revamping. It is inefficient and immoral. We must first understand that capitalism and the market do not work in health care delivery. There are very specific reasons beyond the scope of this post why that is true. The transition must begin now. It must include support for all of those who will lose jobs as inefficiencies are extricated. But we must get started now.

Bullet Points for Legislators

  • Single Payer saves money.  For the past 20 years, states have commissioned studies on different types of health care systems.   In EVERY case, single payer was shown to be the only way to cover everyone and the only system that saved money and controlled costs.

  • Publicly financed does not mean government run health care.  YOU have publicly finance health coverage, but the government does not make decisions regarding your health care.

  • Cost conscious patients often don't get the care they need.   Most decisions are made by the doctor in concert with the patient, but the patient relies on the doctor's knowledge to make a decision.  Expensive tests and treatments cannot be ordered by the patient, only the doctor.

  • Lifestyle choices are not what is fueling high costs in health care.   The United States ranks low in general health indicators, but high in good health habits.  We smoke less, drink less and consume less animal fat that many other countries with better health indicators and much lower health care costs.

  • Businesses can accurately determine their health care costs and are not subject to unanticipated large premium increases.

  • It will reduce labor costs due to a more efficient way of financing health care, eliminating much wasteful administration.

  • Workers' Compensation costs will be reduced, likely by half, due to the fact that everyone has health coverage and there is no need for the medical portion.

  • It reduces the need for part time employees and provides easier recruiting.  There are no pre-existing conditions or Cobra issues.

  • Eliminates the oversight of health benefits and bargaining health coverage with employees.

  • It creates healthier personnel and more stable employees, reduces absenteeism and eliminates employer health coverage complaints.

  • It reduces employee health related debt and personal bankruptcies.

  • It frees up family income that can be spent on other goods and services, thus stimulating the economy.

Tips for Writing Letters to Editor

Follow guidelines for your local paper (word count, submission instructions, etc.)

Frame your letter in relation to a recent news item Use state specific data whenever possible (let us know if you need help finding some!)

Address counter arguments

Be aware of your audience and emphasize how Medicare for All is good for ALL residents of the state

Criticize other positions, not people Include your credentials (especially if you work in the healthcare field)

Avoid jargon and abbreviations

Don’t overload on statistics and minor details

Cover only one or two points in a single letter

Avoid rambling and vagueness

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