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 The leading web portal for pharmacy resources, news, education and careers September 19, 2017
Pharmacy Choice - Pharmaceutical News - Commentary: Single-payer would solve insurance problems - September 19, 2017

Pharmacy News Article

 9/13/17 - Commentary: Single-payer would solve insurance problems

Single-payer health care ? also known as "Medicare for All" ? is actually within reach right now.

The organizing we do in this critical moment could permanently change the political dynamic around health care and make truly universal access to health care a reality.

I am so encouraged by the new understanding and support for universal access to health care.

Finally, many of our citizens are recognizing and agreeing that our government leaders and our insurance carriers should neither be in the business of deciding which people deserve access to medical care nor determining the quality and breadth of that care.

Medicare for All will provide universal access to health care to all Americans, as a birthright.

Medicare currently provides health care to the oldest Americans and it is a blessing to those over 65. Medicare is provided to all who have paid a small tax during their working years to secure their future health. Medicare does not discriminate against the sick as the under 65 capitalistic system we have. Medicare provides health security, not to the wealthy and the well, but to the oldest and the sickest among us.

A national improved and expanded Medicare for All system would also allow for the negotiation of drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. I believe we would all agree on the necessity of lowering runaway drug prices.

Medicare for All would also allow anyone ? willing to pay extra ? to purchase private insurance.

Critics say that the Medicare we already have is too expensive. Of course health insurance that only covers the oldest and the sickest will have a higher cost than one that covers everybody. However, our Medicare system does operate at an efficiency rate of less than 2 percent.

The advantage for Medicare for All is that it covers every one, young and old, sick and healthy, bringing down the average cost per person to a reasonable level. Every developed country already has a single-payer system similar to Medicare for All. The cost per capita is much lower and the health outcomes are markedly improved.

Currently, the cost of providing health benefits to employees is exploding. This leads to the failure of businesses or employee health insurance plans that cover less every year at higher costs to employers and employees.

Single-payer health care would eliminate the need for businesses to provide health benefits. Individuals would be free to change jobs without worrying about losing health insurance and businesses would have more resources to invest in training and compensating their employees.

Similarly, businesses ? and state and federal government agencies ? that offer health insurance as a perk to retired employees would be relieved of that financial burden. It would be a windfall of incredible proportions for the state of North Carolina. For years, state lawmakers have been struggling with ways to cover the rising cost of health insurance for the state's retired teachers. The state's solutions have limited access to care, through carrier networks, for all of our retirees. Original Medicare has no networks, eliminating tremendous administrative costs and providing better patient care.

The true measure of success should be our health outcomes, not profitability, correct? Shouldn't we be patients when we are sick, not consumers? Shouldn't our health care decisions be made with our doctors without the insurance company being the elephant in the room? Prevention, continuity of care and wellness could once again be the focus of health care, rather than crisis management. The cost of providing access to health care for all Americans is low. The current alternative is killing our citizens daily.

Australia, for example, has a Medicare-for-all system that provides health care to every Australian. The average Australian pays a 2 percent income tax, with the very rich paying 3 percent and in exchange, they receive high quality, affordable health care.

Ask yourself not whether we can afford single-payer health care, but why we do not have it already?

Every year, since 2003, Rep. John Conyers of Georgia has introduced a House Resolution, HR676 for a National Improved Medicare for All System. In the 2017 Congress, this bill has 118 co-sponsors.

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, Bernie Sanders will introduce a proposal for Medicare for All. Public support for Medicare for All has never been higher.

A recent poll by The Economist and YouGov indicates broad support for a single-payer health care system among Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Among Democrats, 75 percent favor single-payer and 12 percent oppose. Among Republicans 46 percent favor and 38 percent oppose; and among independents, 58 percent favor and 21 percent oppose

As we move forward into 2018 and 2020, ask the candidates the difficult questions on health care. The profit-driven delivery system we have is definitely not working for the average working American. We can and should do better.

Sherry Eason of Hubert owns an insurance agency.



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