Local View: All health needs would be covered with Medicare for all
When my daughter turns 26, there is a good chance she will have no health insurance. Family coverage will end. If she is lucky, she will work at a job that provides some kind of basic plan with very high deductibles. If she is poor enough, she mi...
When my daughter turns 26, there is a good chance she will have no health insurance. Family coverage will end. If she is lucky, she will work at a job that provides some kind of basic plan with very high deductibles. If she is poor enough, she might be able to find coverage through MinnesotaCare.
My hope, however, is she will be fully covered by a new, high-quality policy made possible by a Medicare For All Act, secure in the knowledge she will never worry about her lack of insurance, never be "out of network," never reconsider buying a needed drug because of the co-pay or inflated price, and never put off dental care as her teeth degrade.
Under the act, she also would never declare bankruptcy because of medical debt. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number-one reason people file for personal bankruptcy is medical debt. Medicare for all would fix this, simply and efficiently.
Don't confuse Medicare for all with what we now call Medicare. This would be a new and more robust policy with a comprehensive improvement to the coverage. But it would inherit the administrative structure and efficiency of Medicare, with overhead estimated at around 3 percent. Also like Medicare, it would negotiate with and make direct payments to clinics, hospitals, and other health care providers. This is why it is sometimes called "enhanced Medicare for all."
It would achieve low overhead by eliminating the unneeded middlemen, the insurance companies. These private companies provide an accounting and payment function, but it's nothing special, and they charge for high profits while also denying care if they can get away with it. The profit motive serves no purpose when it comes to providing needed health coverage.
Some people are worried we can't afford this kind of comprehensive, universal health coverage. But with the highest medical costs of any country in the world right now, we can't afford not to.
Private companies take advantage of a confusing and disjointed system. Medicare for all would simplify the system, returning pricing leverage to the people.
Getting a Medicare for All Act through Congress will not be easy. This is big change, equivalent to the original Social Security Act. It will require a mass movement to put very strong pressure on politicians to stick to their guns and to not bend to insurance-industry demands.
If you like your employer-based insurance, don't worry. This would provide better coverage without network restrictions. You would be able to choose your doctor and clinic. When an ambulance picks you up because of a sudden emergency, your first thought wouldn't have to be, "I hope the hospital is in-network." The whole country would be in-network.
If you are a provider, get ready for the relief of not having to "code" and bill multiple insurance companies, sometimes re-submitting paperwork repeatedly. Get ready for fair and timely payments. And get ready for having every patient covered.
If you are a unionized employee whose union fought hard for a good policy, this policy not only would be better, it would free up your union to bargain for higher wages, improved working conditions, and other benefits.
If you are a small-business owner, get ready for quality personal coverage for you and your family. Employees arrive already covered, and they leave covered. It's no longer your concern.
If you make a comfortable living working for a health insurance company, yes, this will be a big change. But the act can provide funding for a just transition for insurance-company employees who would be in need of finding work elsewhere and proper training for their career change. And they would be covered just like everyone else, as would their children, friends, and neighbors. Isn't that how it should be?
Please join the fight for Medicare for all. The bill is due to be released shortly, and it will need your help.
John Krumm is on the steering committee of the Twin Ports DSA, or Democratic Socialists of America (twinportsdsa.org) and is a member of the new Duluth chapter of Health Care for All Minnesota (healthcareforallmn.org). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .