Single-Payer Health Insurance the Best Option

By Beacon Staff

Ezra Klein, a prominent health care and political journalist-blogger, was recently interviewed by Mike Dennison, a reporter with Lee Newspaper’s Montana State Bureau. The interview addressed the hearings on health care reform being held by Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Baucus is the chairman and Grassley is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. The most important question in the interview was, “Shouldn’t a single-payer or Medicare-for-all system of universal coverage be considered?” Klein replied: “When the politicians say, ‘We’re going to take what you have now away and you can trust the federal government to do this [health care] now’ – that scares the hell out of people.”

If Congress won’t even consider a single-payer health care system, what kind of a “system” will our nation and we, as individuals, end up with? I am convinced the outcome will be even more complicated and detrimental than what we have now, a hodge-podge on top of an already existing hodge-podge of insurance plans. In other words, no plan and certainly no “system.”

There will continue to be for-profit and not-for-profit insurance companies that you will receive through your employers, which will continue to make them less then competitive in world markets, or you will be forced to buy it individually and, if you can not afford it, we will be given a public assistance to do so – not bad so far (don’t get excited taxpayer, you are already paying for it). You must remember that you will probably change jobs seven times like most Americans and have to buy some kind of bridge coverage in between those jobs and, if you’re broke, prove it to the system you need some financial help.

But wait, we will still keep children’s health care for kids when some employer won’t cover them. If you make too much money, you will have to buy through a private insurance company to get coverage. Then we will still want to have veterans’ coverage and their hospitals, and rightly so, along with Indian health care. Your spouse may not have veterans or Indian coverage; will they have to get coverage through there employer, maybe on the open market? Will these plans have to be changed when you move across the nation, the region? Maybe only the state you live in? Will it be the same type of coverage as you move across the nation? Then in order to keep the profit margins up for the insurance industry, once you hit 55, and you become unemployed and sick you loss your coverage, you can buy in to Medicare at the full price around $1,200 per month. You get the picture. There’s a million more hang ups to make life a little more confusing.

A Medicare type plan, Single-Payer for all, with everybody in and nobody out, is the most efficient. It will save $400 billion for the American tax payer every year. That’s less than the $700 billion Sens. Baucus and Grassley are going to spend, money they helped to set aside in the last budget. The Single-Payer savings could be used to help cover the 50 million uninsured. The Single-Payer would concentrate on prevention, free choice of doctors and hospitals, no more in-network, out-of-network, deductibles, exclusions, and co-pay. According to recent polls, the majority of the American people, doctors and nurses and health economists want Single-Payer. Why don’t Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley?

Call them, e-mail them and write them. Tell them America needs Single-Payer.

Gene Fenderson is a founding member of Montana for Single-Payer

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