Healthcare - Debate or Debacle?

HelathcareAccording to Business Insider, in 2017, the United States was the 13th richest country on earth. There is really no reason that people should DIE because they lack the money to seek medical care. Shane Patrick Boyle started a GoFundMe to raise money to buy insulin. He came up $50 short and died. HE DIED.  A young man I know got 'road rash' on his leg. He could not afford to go to the doctor. He died from infection. HE DIED. There is no excuse for this.

With the Republicans in power, over 3,000,000 people have already lost their medical insurance. Whether it is 'Obamacare', 'Medicaid' or 'Medicare', the Republican congress and the Republican Administration are going after it. They don't even have any qualms about it. 

Healthcare is not the same thing as Medical Insurance. They are two very different things, but it seems, here in America,  we have managed to conflate them.

Three large industries constitue the three legs of the American Healthcare Marketplace stool; Medical Insurance, Pharmacueticals and Medical Practitioners. When you get sick, or injured, there are THREE different hands in your pockets, so be sure to take a moment and thank Richard Nixon and the Republicans for introducing us to capitalized health care.

In most cases having a healthcare plan is not the same thing as being able to afford to seek healthcare.It is easy to understand why the Affordable Care Act was unpopular, and why the individual mandates were even more unpopular.

Margot Sanger-Katz looks at the problem for The New York Times :

The number of uninsured Americans has fallen by an estimated 15 million since 2013, thanks largely to the Affordable Care Act. But a new survey, the first detailed study of Americans struggling with medical bills, shows that insurance often fails as a safety net. Health plans often require hundreds or thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket payments — sums that can create a cascade of financial troubles for the many households living paycheck to paycheck.


One reason, many experts said, is a gradual shift in the norms about the generosity of health insurance. In recent years, health plans have come with growing deductibles and narrowing networks of providers, provisions devised to lower the cost of premiums. Those features have made health insurance accessible to a larger share of the population, but may also be leaving more insured Americans vulnerable.

Is Medicare for All the solution? I am not so sure it is. Medicare pays 80% of medical, but doesn't cover dental or vision. Last time I checked, eyes and teeth are part of your body and can impact your overall health. 80% sounds generous until you get the bill. For folks on a fixed income, these 20% co-pays can have a catastrophic financial impact.

Personal anecdote:
My husband is disabled and is on Medicare. He saw a specialist for a followup visit. The visit lasted 10 minutes. A total of $985.00 was billed to Medicare . They paid  $788 (80%) and our share was $197.00 (20%). 

I wrote to Senator Wyden, asking him to support Bernie Sanders Medicare for All bill. Here is the response I received:

Thank you for contacting me regarding Senator Sanders' Medicare for All Act. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.


Here is where we differ. When it comes to health care, I don't believe in a one-size- fits-all solution works as either good policy or good politics. Senator Sanders' bill, the Medicare for All Act, aims to get rid of all private insurance plans and eventually put every American on a modified Medicare plan that covers most health care costs. Insurance coverage through a single payer system that works for someone in Portland, Oregon, may not be the right kind of coverage for someone living in Portland, Maine. This is why 45% of Oregonians opt out of traditional Medicare in favor of private plans, while only 25% of Maine residents do.

My focus is on giving states the necessary resources to pursue a single-payer system so they have the opportunity to demonstrate that this method of coverage works for them before expanding it across the country. I believe it's crucial that states try these approaches before creating a countrywide single-payer system. In order to make sure these pioneers have the best chance at success, I am seeking changes to tax laws so that states can access all the money the federal government puts toward health care in their state. Lack of that funding has slowed down state efforts up to this point.

Universal Health Care or Single Payer, it doesn't matter what you call it, we have to put an end to our capitalistic health care system. Healthcare should not be a profit center. That is one of many reasons the costs here are so prohibitive. Decision Data put together a nice analysis of the costs. Here is a graph of their conclusions:

Put it TogetherUniversal Health Care would save the people of the United States about $600 billion for the same level of care they’re receiving. We found it would require an additional $562 billion in taxation to cover the government spending, after savings and increases to demand. Is a single-payer universal system worth it? As always, that’s for you to decide – we’re just here to give you the data that helps you make important decisions.