This week, Republicans made it clear why the United States needs progressives like Bernie Sanders in public office. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan highlighted the need while proposing cuts to healthcare for folks with pre-existing conditions.
Ryan wants to get rid of the protections for people with serious conditions in the Affordable Care Act, potentially leaving thousands of people without healthcare or with limited coverage. Sanders, conversely, wants to make sure all people are insured, regardless of pre-existing conditions.
The Speaker suggested putting these people into high-risk pools to ease costs for healthier folks. He reasoned that patients with more costly medical needs have made healthcare more expensive while “undermining choice and competition.”
However, Physicians for a National Health Program researched such competition among healthcare providers and found that “competition among investor-owned, for-profit” insurers had actually driven costs up, not down. Their research indicated the quality of healthcare had gone down, as well.
Ryan’s insurance proposal is an old, failed model that punishes people for getting sick.
The High Cost of High-Risk Insurance Pools
The point of health insurance is to spread the risk among large numbers of people, thereby lowering costs. What would happen by grouping high-risk people into smaller groups is those people with chronic illnesses and disease like cancer and diabetes would be forced to pay higher fees, and taxpayers would be left to make up the rest in the form of higher taxes.
In other words, healthy people would be picking up the healthcare tab in two ways: by paying their own premiums as well as higher taxes. This would cost taxpayers far more than Sanders’ single payer proposal. Indeed, this is something already occurring in the United States. We are paying for national healthcare as a whole. The problem is, we aren’t getting it.
The Commonwealth Fund broke down the high-risk pool, providing proof that these are actually more expensive for states and the federal government to administer than spreading them out into the larger marketplace.
- They are extremely expensive to administer.
- Consumers can’t afford to purchase high-risk plans.
- High-risk insurance pools offer less coverage, often have lifetime limits and coverage gaps, and have prohibitively high premiums and deductibles.
Throughout his campaign, Bernie Sanders has called for a single payer Medicare-For-All plan that would provide Americans with healthcare funded with taxes. Indeed, a single payer universal healthcare system would actually save people and businesses money in the long term.
In 2006, Public Citizen published a call for a single-payer system, in which it argued that a Medicare-For-All system would be good for business.
“Publicly financed by privately run health care for all would cost employers far less in taxes than their costs for insurance. With universal coverage, employers would no longer have to pay for medical care as part of the compensation package offered to workers.”
Physicians for a National Health Program also advocate for a single payer system. They believe that under the current ACA system, tens of millions of people will continue to be uninsured or underinsured, with insurers continuing to fleece consumers.
“Insurers will continue to strip down policies, maintain restrictive networks, limit and deny care, and increase patients’ co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.”
The group also notes that a single payer system, as proposed by Bernie Sanders, would increase preventive care, facilitates health planning, and help reduce medical injury with what they refer to as “continuous quality improvement.”
The Center for Economic and Policy Research also noted that Sanders’ push for a single payer system may also have the affect of driving down prescription drug prices.
“The implication is that we need people like Senator Sanders to constantly push the envelope. Even if this may not get us to universal Medicare in one big leap, it will create a political environment in which we can move forward rather than backward.”
Single Payer Could Stimulate Economy & Encourage Entrepreneurship
Much of the evidence points to reduced costs for all Americans with Sanders’ proposed single payer healthcare system, which could save citizens up to $5,000 per year. However, few experts, if any, discuss the positive impact on innovation in the workplace should single payer become a reality.
A single payer system would eliminate this, and allow people to either quit their jobs and seek out more personally fulfilling employment, or give them the courage to strike out on their own.
Human resources professional Eve Luppert wrote about the issues of dealing with insurance companies for more than 20 years. She outlines the fear and the high costs of healthcare that force many workers to remain in the corporate hamster wheel, despite the soul-sucking environment.
“Many of us would very much like to give up the corporate life and start our own, new businesses, creating tomorrow jobs. We know a change in how we work and what we do is coming and we want to be at the forefront of it.”
A single payer system could liberate those with innovative ideas and entrepreneurial leanings, eliminating the fear of not having health insurance coverage. This, as Sanders believes, could stimulate and benefit the economy rather than stifle it.
Sanders’ single payer Medicare-For-All plan would be funded by a 6.2 percent income-based premium paid by employers. Workers would pay a 2.2 percent premium on their payroll taxes, along with taxing capital gains and dividends. This would theoretically generate $1.39 trillion per year while lowering overall costs to those who currently cannot afford healthcare even under the ACA.
The public no longer sees traditional health insurance as the model of the future. Increasingly, proposals like Ryan’s highlight just how out of touch the Republican party is with the majority of the American people. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-For-All single payer system would ultimately decrease drug costs, jump-start innovation and entrepreneurship, and stimulate the U.S. economy by leaving Americans with more money in their wallets.
[Photo: Ryan Kang/AP Images]