Medicare for All Means Getting Rid of the Gatekeepers Who Deny Care, Gaining a Choice of Doctors and Hospitals
The health insurance industry is trying to frame Medicare for All as a program that would take something valuable away from patients.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Framing the program as a loss for patients is straight from the corporate handbook. We urge you not to fall into the PR trap laid by health insurance corporations.
Under Medicare for All, private insurance companies no longer would be necessary. That’s not a loss – unless you like hassles, surprise medical bills and illness because you can’t afford the procedure your insurance company denied coverage for.
Most people would be happy to trade the battles they have with their insurer for a system in which they simply can go to a doctor when they are sick and not worry about the bill, which would be paid for by an improved and expanded Medicare program.
Here’s what patients would “lose” if health insurance corporations went away:
- A lengthy and bureaucratic process to get approval for procedures before having them;
- Phone battles with insurance company gatekeepers over care and medications the patient received but the insurance company later refuses to cover fully;
- Surprise bills from providers who aren’t in the insurance company network but treated the patient at the in-network hospital;
- Out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles for in-network providers and larger charges for out-of-network doctors;
- Having to ration medication because the insurance company doesn’t cover the drug patients need;
- The concern that if they lose or change jobs, they will lose health coverage;
- Time spent puzzling over the fine print of the plan when a question arises about benefits; and
- Paying sky-high amounts for COBRA when people need coverage between jobs.
People would be fine with “losing” these things.
If you’re still skeptical, just listen to former health insurance executive Wendell Potter, who worked behind the scenes for years to manipulate public opinion to the advantage of insurance corporations.
In a recent New York Times op-ed, Potter wrote about the limitations of the health insurance system and how the industry tried to flip that upside down:
“[T]hose of us who held senior positions for the big insurers knew that one of the huge vulnerabilities of the system is its lack of choice. In the current system, Americans cannot, in fact, pick their own doctors, specialists or hospitals — at least, not without incurring huge “out of network” bills.
“Not only does the current health care system deny you choice within the details of your plans, it also fails to provide many options for the plan itself. Most working Americans must select from a limited list made by their company’s chosen insurance provider (usually a high-deductible plan or a higher-deductible plan). What’s more, once that choice is made, there are many restrictions around keeping it. You can lose coverage if your company changes its plan, or if you change jobs, or if you turn 26 and leave your parents’ plan, among other scenarios.
“This presented a real problem for us in the industry. Well aware that we were losing the ‘choice’ argument, my industry colleagues spent millions on lobbying, advertising and spin doctors — all intended to muddy the issue so Americans might believe that reform would somehow provide ‘less choice.’”
Rather than repeating the corporate frame, we urge you to use the factual frame: Under Medicare for All, patients would gain.