I’ve watch the Democratic debates and, in particular, I’ve noticed the discussions about Medicare for All involving Senators Sanders and Warren. I can’t believe my ears. It’s no wonder that these two senators are having so much trouble selling this form of universal healthcare to the American people, and even to most of their fellow candidates.
Sanders and Warren are doing a very poor job of explaining how the systems that they are promoting will work, what they will cost and, and especially the effect that they will have on Americans’ taxes. Why they are not prepared to do this is simply astounding, incomprehensible.
This has now become such a very debatable issue and it could have been entirely avoided if they had pointed out how such systems have been working very successfully in a host of other developed countries; and why it could also work quite effectively here in this country.
There are 32 developed nations in the world, including the US, as well as in Europe proper, Scandinavia, Canada, and various other nations. 31 of these developed nations have some form of universal healthcare and only one does not. And who might that be? Well, it’s none other than the USA.
These countries are, quite obviously, distinctly different from America in that they all consider that healthcare is a right for every citizen. They make it clear that they feel this way because they care for their fellow citizens.
These other nations have had such healthcare systems in place for decades; some are better than others, some have problems that need to be addressed but, for the most part, they are quite effective and the people of these countries are quite satisfied with them.
Now let’s ask this very pertinent question involving this critical issue: How many people in these other nations die annually because they have no medical coverage? The answer is none because every one of them is covered.
America doesn’t have just one healthcare system, it has five, yes five. There is private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and the VA system. And, if anyone thinks that they are all fully coordinated and work very effectively together, then think again.
What a convoluted system this is. Each of the five is greatly burdened with massive paperwork. Private insurance companies earn huge profits, premiums never stop increasing. Republicans are always trying to decrease funding for Medicare and Medicaid and they tried hard to destroy Obamacare.
Before we talk about costs, let’s talk about the shortcomings of the U.S. systems and how their shortcomings adversely affect Americans. Here are some statistics from various internet sources, including nerdwallet.com:
*56 million Americans under age 65 will have trouble paying medical bills.
*Over 35 million American adults (ages 19-64) will be contacted by collections agencies for unpaid medical bills; 17 million of the same age group will receive a lower credit rating on account of their medical bills.
*Over 15 million adults in the same age group will use us all their savings to pay medical bills; over 11 million in the same age group will take on credit card debt to pay off their hospital bills.
*Nearly 10 million adults will be unable to pay for basic necessities like rent, food, and heat due to medical bills.
*Over 16 million children live in households that are struggling with medical bills.
*To save costs, over 25 million adults will not take their prescription drugs as indicated, including skipping doses, taking less medicine than prescribed, or delaying a refill.
*Some 45,000 Americans die each year from a lack of medical insurance, that’s terrible, appalling news. Here is the link to a study conducted at Harvard Medical School that supports that statistic.
Now let’s get into costs of the U.S. systems, followed by a discussion of what a universal system would cost and how it would save a great deal of taxpayer dollars when fully implemented.
It has been fully confirmed that the annual per capita costs of the U.S. healthcare systems are 2 to 2-1/2 times the average cost of the other developed nations. U.S. health care spending increased by some 3.9 percent in 2017, totaling $3.5 trillion or $10,739 per person. It was $3.65 trillion in 2018. Health spending accounted for 17.9 percent of the nation’s total GDP.
Right now these Democratic debates don’t allow candidates to go into great detail on any issue. But Sanders and Warren should be stressing this: “if the U.S. annual cost is $3.65 trillion, or about $36 trillion for 10 years and the U.S. adopted a similar system to the other developed nations, the savings over 10 years would be astounding. Maybe it would not come down to the same level as the other nations but it would be very significant.
They should stress the fact that the great savings would come from having no premiums, no deductibles, and no co-pays. Yes, Americans would pay some more in taxes but the overall savings would be far greater. And they need to mention that, very soon, they will present a great deal more detail on how all this would work.
Before long there are going to be many studies made of the costs and benefits of such a system. In the following, we already have a very comprehensive, 200-page analysis by Peri, the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
It determined that, “based on 2017 U.S. healthcare expenditure figures, the cumulative savings for the first decade operating under Medicare for All would be $5.1 trillion, equal to 2.1 percent of cumulative GDP; without accounting for broader macroeconomic benefits such as increased productivity, greater income equality, and net job creation through lower operating costs for small- and medium-sized businesses.”
So it would seem that this U.S. Congress, knowing that such a new system would save this country over $5 trillion over the next decade, and greatly improve healthcare for all Americans, would be anxious to implement it as soon as possible. But, Republicans who could care less about the welfare of the people of this country, and our ignorant president, no doubt, will continue to obstruct all efforts to do so.
And if you can believe it, Republicans’ Dear Leader Trump, not that long ago, made this observation in one of his twisted tweets about the possibility of some form of universal medical coverage., He said on SEPTEMBER 14, 2017, “Bernie Sanders is pushing hard for a single-payer healthcare plan – a curse on the U.S. & its people.”
Well, that statement is certainly way over the top and shows his disdain relative to healthcare for every American. Next thing you know we may hear Trump saying something like this: “This Democrats advocating universal healthcare are nuts. I guess the next crazy idea they will put forth is to recommend we launch a program to send a man to the moon in a spaceship!”
And, for those who say that this government cannot be trusted to run a system of healthcare, that is just plain ignorant because it is already running the Medicare System which currently covers 44 million beneficiaries. Enrollment is expected to rise to 79 million by 2030.
Warren, who has been greatly criticized for failing to say how she would pay for such a system, has announced that she will roll out a plan in several weeks that will give the details of how she will pay for it. Let’s see what she comes up with. If she does a very effective job of it then maybe we will see most of this current ignorance about this issue dissipate.
Such a complex system cannot, must not be implemented all at once but must be phased in over some ten years or even more. And here’s where a major decision must be made. Sanders and Warren want to eliminate all private insurance and have a system run solely by the government. Biden and others favor one which, at least in the beginning years, allows people to keep their private insurance; or they can opt for the public option which is Medicare for All.
That is certainly a big decision and it will be made after much deliberation. But in the end, I feel that Medicare for All must cover every American and private insurance must eventually become a thing of the past.
All that having been said, this government, the Congress, and all its members should do what is right and grab this opportunity to save these trillions of dollars and provide what might turn out to be, at some point in time, the best healthcare system in the world.
To think that America is incapable of implementing a universal healthcare type system, such as 31 other nations have had in place for many, many years is unthinkable. If we sent a man to the moon, if we developed the revolutionary internet, then we can develop a world-class healthcare system. The only thing holding us back at this time is our government and we must change that for the better in 2020.
These politicians in Washington cannot allow this American tragedy to go on and they must finally understand that it is way past time when they think about this suffering of so many of their fellow Americans. Their attitude must be, like that of the other developed nations in the world, “We care for our fellow citizens and every one of them is entitled to the best medical coverage in our country.”