The United States of America has a healthcare problem. It is no secret that we spend more per capita on healthcare than any other country on earth, and yet we still have nearly 30 million Americans who cannot afford or do not have access to it whatsoever with millions more under insured who simply cannot come up with the outrageous sums for their copays and deductibles.In the richest country in the world we have tens of thousands dying because they don’t have access to care. Yes, the United States has a healthcare problem. That problem is health insurance companies.
The United States is currently the only developed nation not to guarantee healthcare as a basic human right to its citizens. And unfortunately, this is not a new situation. The United Kingdom instituted the National Health Service in 1948 as a single payer hybrid insurance program covering each and every one of its citizens with no additional copays or deductibles. Canada has had a similar system since 1984. Australia, since 1975. In fact, in a study by The Commonwealth Fund in 2013 of eleven major countries and their medical care systems, the US ranks dead last overall. A whopping $8,508 per capita spent vs just $3,182 in New Zealand for example. That number has exceeded $10,000 in 2016. And these countries health systems have great approval ratings: Canada holds a 57% satisfaction rating for availability of care and the United Kingdom at 43%. What do people in the US think of their care? Not so much it turns out. Only 25% were satisfied with the accessories to affordable care. In a country which holds $80 trillion in wealth, how is it that we cannot “afford” to cover every one of our citizens and give them access to the care they need?
The answer is lobbying and campaign contributions. According to Opensecrets.org, insurance corporations spend $147 million lobbying congress for favorable legislation or blockading bills like medicare for all. And this spending has more than doubled since just 1998. In just the 2012 election cycle this companies poured over $55 million into campaign contributions to elect candidates favorable to them. Over 68% of this funding went to the same party pushing through the American Health Care Act: The Republican Party.
The Republican Party for years has railed against the “socialism” of a single payer or government managed healthcare system. Yet we have had one right here for decades called Medicare. Medicare is a single payer government subsidized health plan for people aged 65 or older and is paid into through payroll taxes. It’s also nearly nine times more efficient at spending its dollars on actual care rather than administrative costs.
One argument used by Republican’s is that its “too expensive” and costs would go out of control. Are they even looking at the data? We spend two to three times more on health care per capita than anyone. The costs are out of control now because of private health insurance corporations due to profits, administrative costs, and nice juicy paydays for their CEO’s. It just so happens that those other countries have had their governments step in and say enough is enough of profiting off of the poor and the sick. Its time for the United States to do the same.
Bernie Sanders’ medicare for all proposal during the campaign trail is a very simple concept. Expanding medicare to every man, woman, and child not only is the moral thing to do, but it saves the middle class a pretty penny. His plan estimated to save the average middle class family earning $50,000 a year over $5,000 by eliminating premiums, deductibles, and copays for coverage. If you think about it, single payer Medicare for all really is the conservative option for health care.
While a bold idea, it is not one with little support from the public. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. 60% of Americans, and a plurality of Republican voters, support the expansion of medicare for all citizens with only 23% overall in opposition according to a poll by YouGov earlier this year. Running on this platform would almost guarantee the Democrats taking back the Senate or House at the very least.
Thankfully the Democratic Party is beginning to take notice. House Resolution 676 Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act currently sits at 113 cosponsors from House Democrats, an incredible jump from just a couple of years ago where it sat at 62. Bernie Sanders’ message of guaranteed healthcare resonated with Americans across the nation and fortunately many of their representatives were moved in the same way. Of course the first order of business is defeating the disastrous repeal-and-replace Obamacare option the GOP has put forward. From there it will be full steam ahead for Senator Sanders’ and Medicare for all.