No. Which is what I'm telling Congress today.
Thank you! My cost for healthcare (insurance, absurdly high deductibles, et al.) is close to $9K annually. That does NOT include dental costs for which Medicare offers zero help, so these costs are directly out-of-pocket. I am 78-years-old, live on social security, have no portfolios to dip into for unexpected medical issues or any other surprises. I am vibrant, stay active with my writing and art, am a political activist, and love life. I receive help from SNAP (food stamps), which will run out if they haven't already. Normally, I receive $20/month in total. Because of the pandemic, I've received the maximum amount of $250/month. What a difference that has made. It allowed some of us to live a tiny bit better. But why only $20 a month normally? Because my gross social security ($21K) is NOT considered poverty level in New York State. What??? They use an arcane, out-of-date formula to determine how much is allocated to an individual. And, it is not relevant to today's increased food and medical costs.
I've worked since I was seven years old as a performance artist, then marketing consultant, and am finally devoting full time to my writing and photography. I cannot express how important your voice will be in Congress today. Ageism is severe in our country, which few give any focus. It is harsh, judgemental, humiliating. There are inequities, mistreatment and disrespect from the government, from our state representatives, from BIG Pharma, from the young woman who manages our subsidized housing. I know you fight for people of all ages. But I argue for those who can no longer advocate for themselves. I had to sell my car this year. Not because I can no longer drive but to pay off dental expenses. I was doing volunteer work delivering food to the homebound among other efforts. Now, I am one who is homebound.
None of this is right for any age group, every family, unfed children, working moms, single dads--all who have their issues. It is heartbreaking to watch our Congress play the games they choose to play. It is gut-wrenching to watch the powers-that-be get rich on the working poor and the elderly. Shame on us and shame on our healthcare system. What can I do to help?
My life long (since 5 years old) and best friend lost her husband to throat cancer. He was a carpet layer and had no health insurance. He developed a throat problem (swallowing, irritation) and waited the year or so till he would turn 65 to go to a doctor. By that time it was stage 4 cancer and had spread and there was nothing the doctors could do. He died within a year. The doctors told him that if he had come to them sooner they could have saved him. This should never happen in this country.
I am a retired emergency physician who has worked all over the USA.
The medical system has so much money in it that it has been taken over by capitalist business. Most doctors now work for a private company and are paid for productivity and increased billing. They spend 1/3 of their time on computers documenting the high possible charges and defense against malpractice. (In most countries contingency fees are unethical and illegal).
Most Western countries have a system like universal Obama care, only with complete coverage, low overhead like Medicare, and no maximum care and billing.
The top medical students at Harvard go into Dermatology because it has the best life style and pay., instead of increasing the length and quality of life.. The average American medical student graduates $300,000 in debt, but in Europe most medical school is free.
Most welfare patients get their medical care from the ER and clinics because Medicaid pays doctors too little. All the drug abuse, violence, and poverty also increases medical costs. Most Republicans think medical care (and welfare) is a privilege and not a right.
I'm on Medicare and am not strapped financially. But preventive health care? Good luck. Unavailable at any price. My "healthcare provider" primary physician sees me for 15 minutes, recommends tests and just hopes some sign of disease shows up that she can recommend meds or surgery for. So far I am healthy, but I know sooner or later I'm going to need care. What then?
Whatever our health insurance system is (private or public) it must reimburse doctors for providing lifestyle medicine treatment, consultation, and education. We don’t just want an efficient system, we also want a healthcare system that focuses on promoting wellness. There are many organizations trying to promote lifestyle medicine but they need a radical change in the way doctors are paid. Checkout the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) and Physician for Responsible Medicine. Checkout the Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Institute (RLMI) and sign up for the virtual Jumpstart course that will help get you on a Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) lifestyle to prevent and reverse cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and debilitating inflammation. There’s so much we can do to be healthier and paying doctors for lifestyle medicine - no matter what our healthcare system is - is essential!
Thank you for this important essay and your willingness to further the cause of Medicare for All.
However, I think the greater problem is American capitalism and its relentless urge to privatize; profit at any cost; scam and lack of accountability for profiteers; especially against the non-wealthy in this country.
Just look at the scandal surrounding the approval by the FDA of the unproven and dangerous Altzheimers' drug, Aduhelm.
As a result of collusion between some FDA members and Biogen ( the maker of Aduhelm), and the outrageous price (originally over $58.000, now $28.000 after pushback), Medicare recipients will see the greatest cost increase in Medicare history, in anticipation of the drug's cost.
And while CMS has proposed limiting the availability of Aduhelm, Biogen has been flooding the CMS comments period lobbying for widespread use of this dangerous and unproven medication; this despite the fact that many medical institutions and doctors have stated that the'll refuse to prescibe the medication to their patients.
The scandal surrounding Aduhelm is just another reminder that Medicare for All is desperately needed in this country.
Good idea. Take a look across the “Pond” to Australia. Medicare for all, plus the option of purchasing private health insurance. Also, if your income is very high you are hit with an extra tax….the Medicare Levy if you do not have the add on insurance. This way everybody gets a “fair go”
Let's get real. Specialists are not the problem. Corporate medical care especially hospitals and specialty group practices SUPPORTED BY PRICE GOUGING CORPORATE INSURANCE companies are. For those of us on Medicare--RR?--read your periodic statements. See what the system charges, and how small a portion Medicare pays! Read the documents.
With the unusual advice of a university human resources officer and our excellent certified socially responsible financial advisor, we kept our BlueCross/BlueShield of TX insurance even as I moved to a much better academic position in another state. Few have this advantage,
But the US needs to learn, and be shamed by international comparisons. As in most social issues, we are a tragic outlier. Death rates--far more than ankles--underscore this. All "developed" nations and many "undeveloped" nations have forms of universal health care. Not US. American exceptionalism. DR (haha) Rand Paul certainly wouldn't know this :) But his "friend" Tony Fauci does!
When my future wife and I moved to Canada in 1970 for graduate school (and for her to complete her BA and BEd) and take preemptive measures in face of the draft for the Vietnam invasion, we became "landed immigrants" not "resident aliens". And we immediately received free health care in Ontario, passed by the Progressive Conservative Party. We didn't spend a penny on health care, other than prescriptions for five years.
Then we returned to the US in 1975. As they say (both not in this blog), "the rest is history." It's now 2022 ....
I’m so glad you are going to speak to Congress about our failure of a healthcare system! I can only tell you what I know. Doctors make money from people’s illnesses. Why do people think that diabetes and heart disease are things that people just get as they grow older? Diabetes is not normal. Heart disease is not normal. People get these things because of what they EAT. My husband had three clogged arteries. I put him on a plant based diet for a month or two and the blockages completely disappeared. I go to appointments with my husband and every single time I mention food and eating healthy, the doctors shut down or change the subject. They are not trained in nutrition, they are trained in cholesterol medicine, other pills, and surgery. My husband has been misinformed and taken advantage of so many times for different ailments. Studies show that eating a plant based diet can increase your life for up to 13 years and even if you are 80, about three more years. We have been conditioned to think meat and dairy are normal and healthy. They are not. I am vegan. I don’t get sick. Not only is a vegan diet healthy, the meat and dairy industry are the leading cause of climate change. Factory farming accounts for 80% of farmland usage, and rainforests which are the lungs of the planet, are destroyed to grow the grain to feed them. We could feed everyone on planet Earth with the amount of grain we feed livestock. I haven’t even mentioned the cruelty to animals that goes along with factory farming and the dairy industry. All I know is what I experience in Mississippi. Maybe we get all the worst doctors in the country. I think that Medicaid for all would be great. If Mississippi would expand Medicare that would be wonderful. Other developed countries don’t mind paying taxes for all the benefits they get like universal healthcare and free colleges, etc. Canada is a great example of a country that has encouraged their people to eat plant-based diets. They also have cheaper medicines and free healthcare. Doctors and big Pharma make millions off of people’s misinformation in the U.S. We need to cut back on our meat consumption for the animals, for our health, and for climate change reduction. We need free healthcare, as a right, not a privilege. We need controls on how much pharmaceutical companies charge for medications. We need to know how much an ER charges for each medical problem or procedure. We need to decouple insurance from work, as you stated. I hope what I’ve said helps someone who reads it. It’s time to deprogram ourselves from old ways of thinking and try to innovate and open our minds to solutions that make sense and save lives.
Universal health care was studied by the OMB as well as conservative groups like Forbes and even Koch- associated. All three huge deep dives into policy concluded over the first decade covering us all with a Single Payer Plan would save billions. All the other studies regarding lack of coverage effects show huge benefits and lives saved if we were all covered from birth. A simple way to see why Medicare for All would save so much money while making us all better off is:
As Reich and others point out, there is so much administrative cost (overhead, marketing, profit, determining who is covered for what and tests authorized at every point in the patient-system encounter, roughly 33% or more, when Medicare has on overhead of about 2%---Canada and other developed countries have overhead of about 12%. Now 20% difference between US and Canada overhead of 4 trillion dollars is a huge saving. With that we could cover everyone and have plenty to transition insurance industry workers into healthcare workers, dental, mental health, and so much more. Just by allowing a Single Payer system to negotiate a volume discount like the VA and Canada do would save billions. (Congress, assaulted by more lobbyists than Congressmen, outlawed volume discounts).
So just by providing a nonprofit system and slashing the nearly trillion dollars in administrative waste, we could cover everyone at birth with a "Cadillac" comprehensive plan far better than any of us have now and save money in the process.
First we may need to agree as a nation that healthcare for All is a right.
Ray Bellamy MD Retired
Medicare for All won't save anybody any money and will make health care worse if it were implemented like the stealth "pilot Program" being implemented by the Innovation Center at CMS. The Direct Contracting Entity program is Medicare Advantage plans fraud on steroids and needs to be stopped immediately. You must emphasize that you are talking about Single Payer traditional Medicare, and no for profit middle men managing billing and payments as the pilot program is doing. Be sure to mention that in your presentation.
A conversation with a student from Germany years ago that still lingers makes me wonder what role our current healthcare system is playing in preventing us from being our most fit and health-conscious. This student said that BECAUSE of the national health care system in Germany, people have the attitude that it is the citizen's responsibility to remain as fit and healthy as possible - for the good of all.
Neither of my twins could afford insurance under the 'Affordable' care act. The deductibles were so high, it just did not make sense. They were uninsured until my daughter's husband joined the Navy and my son got a job paying $30/hour, which included health insurance for himself and his wife that cost $300/month.
We keep having example after example of the failure of the American state capitalist system to effectuate any of these reforms because the battle between laissez-faire capitalism and state capitalism is increasingly one in which the latter triumphs. Corporations have consolidated their control over Congress and the regulatory apparatus and the courts. Soon the state will be deprived of any right to tell private enterprise what to do about preserving the health of the population if it interferes with commerce, not that institutions like the CDC will do so. It might take a few more years before they do away with Medicare via the HMO route but they will.
So when I see all of those members of the progressive caucus, you know the ones who voted to delink infrastructure and BBB bills, I wonder what planet they are on. Is it Planet Fantasy where they sing “would in it be wonderful” from My Fair Lady?
As Michael Moore pointed out, Medicare for All was a huge giveaway to the insurance industry, and the name 'Affordable Care Act' is a misnomer; it is neither affordable nor is it 'caring'.
The only way to efficiently, cost effectively and reduce worsening of death rates and chronic illness is the Medicare for All Act. The continued move to privatize (DCE) Medicare and for profit middle men will only continue to raise the costs, while making a few for profit entities richer. Decisions need to be between the provider and patient period. The Medicare for all Act is the best solution as far as I can see