Saturday, July 25, 2009

Universal health care is right solution for America

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By Anne Cassebaum

Though many Americans support single-payer or “medicare for all” health care, private health insurance companies are spending hard to block it. The organization Public Citizen is actually having to campaign to get the Congressional Budget Office to do a cost comparison of single-payer and other coverage alternatives. It’s an amazing omission as European countries, Japan and Canada have successful single-payer systems at nearly half our costs.

The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that switching to a single-payer system would save us $4 trillion in 10 years. All profit and most administrative costs would be cut. And we would all be covered and free to choose doctors.

The positive ripple effects would be enormous — everyone in our communities and families would get medical care. No one would be dumped or priced out because they are seriously ill.

Fewer personal bankruptcies would result, as medical expenses factor in 62 percent of them.

Perhaps most important would be the cultural message that we care enough about each other to ensure this essential need is met.

We can provide universal coverage and still cut medical expenses. Or we can let the top four health insurance companies reap about $9 billion in profits annually while an estimated 18,000 people die for lack of health insurance.

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