opinion

OPINION: Medicare for All needs to be a litmus test for the Democratic Party



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A man receives a blood pressure test at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. In the Commonwealth Fund study of 11 developed countries’ health care systems, the U.S. health care system was ranked 11th out of 11. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

The health care debate within the U.S. has repeatedly been met with staunch criticism from many other developed nations around the globe.

In the Commonwealth Fund study of 11 developed countries’ health care systems, the U.S. health care system was ranked 11th out of 11. 

For many Americans the idea of a single-payer health care system might seem overwhelming or unnecessary, especially if they feel comfortable with their current health care provider.

The problem lies within the profit-driven health insurance system which puts profits over patients and has a vested interest in denying coverage. 

Americans pay out far too much money in health insurance and prescription drug costs because they are being price gouged by rapacious middlemen – the health insurance industry.

The heart of the debate is finding the best way to achieve universal health coverage and save Americans money on the cost of health care. 

Unfortunately, this would be impossible to achieve. As long as health care is privatized, the incentive structure encourages nefarious business practices such as price gouging and denying coverage to save insurers money. 

A Medicare for All system removes this corrupt incentive structure and has unprecedented upsides that make it the clearest choice for American healthcare reform. 

According to a study by the Political Science Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a Medicare for All system would save up to $5.1 trillion over the course of 10 years.

Individuals would also be paying significantly less for health care because they would no longer be paying private health premiums and would instead be paying the much lower Medicare rates via an increase in taxes. 

For those who argue about the increase in taxes, paying for health care is unavoidable; everyone needs health care. Medicare for All would eliminate your private insurance premiums and would ultimately save individuals money because Medicare does not overcharge to make a profit, unlike private insurers.

Nearly 45,000 Americans die every year from a lack of basic health coverage, and medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy according to a Harvard study. This is unacceptable for a country that claims to have the best health care system in the world. 

Some common concerns with Medicare for All are that there will be exorbitant wait times. Under a Medicare for All system, there may be increased wait times for elective procedures, meaning it does not require a medical emergency, because this system would prioritize need rather than the size of one’s wallet.

Medicare for All also has many Americans worried about whether they can keep their doctors. Under this system, not only would Americans be able to keep their doctors, but it also allows for more freedom of choice by cutting the tie between employers and health insurance.

A single government health insurance provider would be accepted by all doctors, preventing disparities between health insurance networks.

Additionally, Medicare for All would free workers unions to fight for increased wages and other important benefits and would allow for reduced pharmaceutical drug prices. This would occur by having the government negotiate drug prices directly with drug manufacturers. 

However, for those who still prefer their private health insurance, not a single Medicare for All bill proposed bans supplemental private insurance, so these people can keep their current plans.

Democrats need to make support of Medicare for All a core issue and a requirement of being in the Democratic party.

Ultimately, 70% of the country already favors a single-payer health care system and the only thing stopping Democrats from falling in line with the American people are campaign contributions and incessant lobbying from powerful health insurance providers.

Single-payer health care has so many clear advantages over privatized health insurance as demonstrated by the many other developed countries that have it. It is time for the Democrats to actually fight for the people and make this issue a number one priority.

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