For years, corporate PAC donors and lobbyists have worked to warp the way we view healthcare in this country. They’ve equated insurance with healthcare and convinced the American public that we have made progress through passing band-aid measures like the ACA. Although they have been labeled as healthcare reform, the reality is that these policies have done nothing to improve care for American families.
These reforms have mainly focused on expanding health insurance coverage but are not tackling the route of the issue. Our healthcare system in this country is broken and we need a real overall change if we want to improve care.
Healthcare costs in this country are downright ridiculous. Last year the average family spent almost $10,000 of their own money on care costs while deductibles are continuing to skyrocket. Americans are being forced to choose between putting food on the table, paying the electric bill or saving for their future and the high monthly premiums they are being charged by insurance companies.
These gouging costs can cause individuals to forgo purchasing coverage or skip seeing the doctor altogether. Missing medical appointments may cause minor conditions to go untreated for years and eventually develop into a much more serious illness. These chronic conditions cost thousands and can cause individuals to take time off work, hurting businesses and the economy. In the most extreme cases, they can even result in death, and 50,000 people die every year due to the lack of basic healthcare in America.
When Americans do decide to seek care, they are met with a complex and inefficient system. With so many providers and plans, it can be difficult to find an in-network practitioner, particularly if you need to see a specialist or are traveling. We are currently spending over $500 billion every year on unnecessary overhead costs like advertising and million dollar salaries for healthcare CEOS.
Insurance gapping is another serious issue Americans are facing under our current healthcare system. Individuals seeking insurance are not being granted the coverage they need and deserve. Companies can deny coverage to individuals based on a medical condition when that medical condition is often the reason why they are seeking coverage in the first place. Those who do have coverage are hit with limits and are forced to pay out of pocket when the bill arrives.
Changing jobs also makes individuals vulnerable to coverage lapses. New employees face waiting periods before they are eligible for benefits like insurance coverage. The typical American changes jobs every four years; leaving them at risk for gaps over a dozen times throughout their career.
Amy Vilela has personally seen the devastating reality of coverage lapses. Vilela lost her daughter, Shalynne Mckinney-Ramos after she was turned away from an ER for not having health insurance because she had recently changed employment. Her daughter’s death catapulted Vilela to run for the congressional seat in New York’s Fourth District.
“No parent should have to go through the heartache of losing a child needlessly. Healthcare is a human right. And denying it to those in need is inhumane,” Vilela says.
It is clear that we need to do something about these issues, but as Donald Trump has infamously pointed out, healthcare is complicated. How do we fix a system so vast and complex? To put it simply- we do what everyone else does.
Almost every other industrialized nation in the world has a type of government-run single-payer healthcare system. They also have better care, healthier citizens, and lower costs. In America, we call this type of system Medicare-for-All.
You have probably heard a political commentator or two complaining about the burden that this type of healthcare system will place on the American taxpayer. What most of them won’t tell you is that Medicare for All will actually save us money.
In a system where the government runs healthcare, taxes will, of course, need to increase to pay for this service. However, Americans will no longer shell out $10,000 a year to pay for their own medical costs and businesses will not be forfeiting sizable chunks of their revenue.
Not only would costs for individuals and employers decrease, but the overall cost of healthcare will as well. Under one insurance program, the government would be able to negotiate for the cheapest prices for drugs and healthcare services. The CEO of a drug company wouldn’t be able to hike the price of EpiPens to line his own pockets and hospitals couldn’t charge astronomical prices of life-saving emergency medical care.
Costs will also be cut through greater efficiency. Medicare is already more efficient than the current US system; spending only 1% on overhead costs compared to current spending of 20%.
Patients will have greater flexibility. They will be able to see any doctor anywhere and will never again have to worry whether the provider they want to see is covered by their plan. There will be no gaps in coverage because healthcare will be provided to everyone as it is their right. The phrase “pre-existing condition” will be a thing of the past and you won’t have to worry about squeezing in all your appointments before looking for a new job.
Medicare for All is popular with the majority of Americans, economists, politicos and even Republicans. Robb Ryerse is a Republican congressional candidate for Arkansas’ 3rd District who is advocating for the adoption of this system.
“Medicare for All is the best system for American business to compete in the global economy,” he said earlier this month.
The bottom line is that this system would solve our problems and it popular with the majority of the country. So what are we waiting for? We need you to support Medicare for All candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.
We have given Congress plenty of chances to help families. It is time for a Congress that will act in the best interest of the American public and make real and measurable change for us all.
Abby is a Communications volunteer for Brand New Congress who lives in the DC area.