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Top 10 reasons to support single-payer on Medicare’s birthday

A protester in front of the US Capitol holding a sign that reads "Medicare for all"To celebrate Medicare’s anniversary, I thought I would share my top 10 reasons, out of literally thousands of others, to support a single-payer health care system:

10.  Under single-payer, say goodbye to medical bankruptcies in the United States.

According to Physicians for a National Health Program and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), more than 62 percent of the more than 2.2 million personal bankruptcies in the United States are due to medical expenses.

This problem does not just touch those with health insurance.  Many of those who need to file for bankruptcy due to medical costs had health insurance coverage. Single-payer health care would provide health care for all and ensure that no one goes bankrupt due to illness.

This video explains the problem and the solution very well.

9.  If it’s good enough for the royal baby, George Alexander Louis, it’s good enough for the United States.

Here’s my previous blog on this topic.

8.  Single-payer would cover everyone.

I believe health care is a right – not a privilege reserved for the wealthy. Regardless of how much you have in your wallet, you would have access to doctors and hospitals under a single-payer system. In the wealthiest nation in the history of humanity, it is the least we can do.

7.  If members of Congress tried to shut down the government to defund single-payer, they would be defunding health care coverage for themselves and their families.

Unless members of Congress and their families participate directly in a particular health care system, they can hold it hostage for political gain. Case in point: 60 members of Congress recently sent a letter to their leadership requesting that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) shut down the government if the administration doesn’t “defund” Obamacare. If those representatives and their families received their health care through a single-payer system, they would be less inclined to defund it.

6.  It works well in other countries.

 Dozens of other industrialized countries can’t all be wrong. Their people live longer, their child mortality rate is lower and they have unrestricted access to maternity care. This is an example of where we could learn something from studying how other countries provide health care.

5.  Transitioning to a single-payer system would save billions of dollars.

If the United States was able to move away from its private health insurance system, we could save more than $400 billion a year in administrative costs. Further savings could be obtained by adopting European-style drug pricing and provider payments.

4.  Single-payer is simple to administer

H.R. 676, model single-payer legislation, is 30 pages long. It does not need to be thousands of pages long accompanied by a mountain of regulations. A few key principles: Universal coverage, publicly funded and publicly administered, is easy to implement.

3.  Single-payer will increase business competitiveness.

If you remove the more than $1 trillion dollars that private employers pay for health care every year, it would greatly improve the playing field for American business. It is often stated that GM must add $1,500 to $2,000 to the sticker price of a car due to health care costs that car companies in other countries do not have to bear (i.e. Germany and Japan). Having the government be responsible for health care would improve business efficiency, productivity and employment.

2.  You wouldn’t lose your health care if you lose your job.

Every American would have health care no matter what their employment status. Now when people lose their jobs, they also find themselves without health insurance. That’s the last thing someone needs who is trying to figure out how to meet the basic necessities of life. 

1.     Say goodbye to private insurance company abuse.

Private insurance companies have generally made their money by only insuring the healthy and denying claims for the sick. Moving toward single-payer would eliminate the perverse incentives inherent in the private insurance system and turn the focus back to helping heal the sick instead of maximizing profit.

Dave Sterrett is the health care counsel for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.

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