It will be interesting whether presidential candidates address health insurance meaningfully.
On July 30, Medicare and Medicaid turned 50 years old. While we should celebrate that over the past 50 years these programs have increasingly met needs, we should also realize that affordable access to health care in the U.S. still significantly lags other developed nations in Europe and Asia. Even with the Affordable Care Act in place, 10 percent of us remain without insurance, and 10 percent more have inadequate insurance or are underinsured.
Worrisome trends may put us yet farther behind other countries as forprofit insurance companies consolidate into huge monopolies and patented drug prices explode. For many, increased premiums and cost sharing leave people “covered” by insurance but without money to actually afford care when serious illness strikes. Continuing the inadequate fragmented system we have will be a struggle.
The solution is to have Medicare cover everyone. This was the original intent of Medicare, as was controlling costs. The proportion of our medical dollars for administering Medicare is a fraction of that taken by private insurers.
Savings from negotiated service prices, when added to $400 billion in administrative cost savings, would be enough to expand coverage to all and include dental, vision and hearing care. Emphasis on delivery of, and fair payment for, primary care will increase the numbers of primary care physicians.
Uniting behind Medicare for all makes sense.