Thursday, July 30, 2009

Urge Your Representatives & Senators to support a Single Payer Health Care System

It will come as no surprise to most that the health care system in the United States is badly broken. With 47 million uninsured Americans and many more underinsured, many people find themselves not getting the basic care that they need. Often less serious conditions become more serious and costly conditions because many people who lack health insurance simply avoid going to a doctor. In some cases care for the uninsured and underinsured can be similar to that found in Third World Nations. Read my blog post on the Shame of the U.S. Healthcare System:

One major problem is that the U.S. health care system has been held hostage by the for profit insurance companies. With the large profits that these companies make by denying coverage to many or not paying claims, they are able to use these profits to lobby our politicians, pay for ads frightening people from supporting health care reform, and paying 7 figure salaries to their top executives. These companies are clearly in the pockets of our politicians.

Another problem is that the U.S. system is basically an employer sponsored system. Unfortunately the price of health insurance has become so exorbitant that many of the smaller companies have dropped health insurance altogether or have asked their employees to contribute larger and larger percentages of their incomes for their health insurance package with many opting not to take coverage. If you are self-employed, you must pay even higher costs and will be lucky to receive any coverage at all especially if you have a pre-existing condition. Often individuals must pay premiums of over $500 per month and families will usually pay premiums greater than $1200 per month. This is equivalent to paying a second rent each month. Many hard working middle income and working class families will have very little left after paying for food, rent or mortgage, utilities, car expenses, clothing, and other household expenses. With this being the case, many families simply go without any health insurance coverage.

Although some of the blame must also be placed on our health care providers for not containing costs, much blame lies in the reimbursement schedule. One suggestion has been to pay a certain amount to the provider for treatment of a particular condition rather than paying for each visit, procedure, and test ordered separately. If we make a comparison to a restaurant, it might be akin to choosing a prix fixe dinner as opposed to ordering everything a la carte. Clearly some oversight is necessary and would be provided by a single payer system.
Accessibility to health care should be a basic human right. The United States is the only major industrialized country to not have a national health care plan.

When a system is this badly broken, the best solution is just to replace it with something completely different. Only a single payer system would provide healthcare coverage for all. This system, also called Medicare for all, would offer cost savings not found in any other system.

According to Physicians for a National Health Program: “Single payer would be the simplest and most efficient health care plan that Congress could implement.” Unfortunately we are not likely to see a single payer healthcare system unless we the people place enough pressure on our Congressional officers who seem to worry more about their re-election possibilities rather than the health of their constituents. It is about time that they listen to the people that they represent and not the big insurance companies. So for all of my readers in the U.S., who are serious about healthcare reform, please take a few minutes to write or call you representatives in Washington today and ask that they consider a single payer health care option.

If you find yourself without health insurance but need to see a doctor or dentist or save money on prescriptions, visit