Support Single-Payer Healthcare

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Insurance companies are the biggest reason why our healthcare costs are so high. Thirty-one percent of our healthcare spending goes to administrative costs: the insurance companies' administrative costs; the insurance companies' profits; and the administrative costs for hospitals and doctors.

[Health News]

Almost all industrialized nations – other than the United States -- have some form of single-payer healthcare program.

We spend about 17 percent of our gross domestic product (GNP) on health care — far more than any other industrialized nation. Yet at least 47 million people have no health insurance at all; millions more have totally inadequate coverage; people go bankrupt every hour of the day because of the cost of healthcare; and people die every hour because they don’t have insurance or because insurance companies deny them treatment.

Our life expectancy in the United States is three to four years shorter than in other industrialized countries, and our infant mortality rate is far higher.

Single-payer programs are funded through taxes. Yes, that would mean higher taxes, although there might be some exclusions for people at the bottom end of the wage scale. Nobody likes to pay taxes, but there would be no more insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

Critics of single-payer say it would prevent people from seeing their own doctor. That’s not true. You could see any doctor you wish – which is often not the case now even for people who have health insurance. If, for example, your doctor does not belong to your insurance company’s network, you won’t be able to see that doctor, or if you do, you will have a higher co-pay.

Insurance companies are the biggest reason why our healthcare costs are so high. Thirty-one percent of our healthcare spending goes to administrative costs: the insurance companies' administrative costs; the insurance companies' profits; and the administrative costs for hospitals and doctors.

Almost all doctors have at least one person working for them devoted exclusively to insurance.  Under Medicare, the administrative costs are only about 3 percent, because it is a government program and is not profit driven.

Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, has introduced a bill called "The U.S. National Health Insurance Act," (H.R. 676). It would create a comprehensive single-payer healthcare system in the United States. It has about 75 sponsors, including many members of the Black Caucus.

This link -- http://www.healthcare-now.org/hr-676/ -- has their names.  Rep. Charles Rangel was among the supporters last year, but he is withholding his support this year.  Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has introduced similar legislation in the Senate – “The American Health Security Act,” (S 703).

The Senate Finance Committee has held three roundtable discussions on healthcare reform over the past month.  The insurance and pharmaceutical industries have been well-represented, but there hasn’t been even one advocate for single-payer healthcare.  Five protesters -- two nurses, two physicians and a patient advocate -- were arrested at the May 12 hearing because they attempted to make their voices heard. In addition, about 25 nurses staged a silent protest – standing before the committee in red nursing scrubs and turning their backs to show signs reading "Nurses Say: Patients First. Stop AHIP. Pass Single-Payer."  AHIP,  America's Health Insurance Plans, is the private insurance industry lobby arm. It is given a regular voice by the Committee.

Similarly, at a hearing on May 5, eight protesters, including physicians and nurses, were arrested for the same reason. You can see a Youtube video of that protest at this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKP05AyfRsI. You will find similar videos by googling "Senate Finance Committee" and "protesters."
Much more information about single-payer is available on these Web sites:

Physicians for a National Health Program - www.pnhp.org .
Healthcare-Now -- www.healthcare-now.org
The California Nurses Association - www.calnurses.org

I recommend a Frontline documentary entitled "Sick Around the World," which aired in April 2008. It evaluates the healthcare systems in five other industrialized countries: the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Germany. Of those 5 countries, Germany devotes the highest share of its GDP to healthcare – 10.7 percent.

Here is the link to that episode: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/.

I also recommend the Michael Moore documentary "Sicko," which came out about two years ago. It's a scathing indictment of our healthcare system.


 

 

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