Wednesday, December 02, 2015

1/3 Of The Public Still Delays Medical Care Because Of Cost

The Republicans won't admit it, but the Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare) made our broken system of medical care significantly better. There is no longer a cap of the amount an insurance company will pay for medical care, they can't charge higher prices or deny coverage because of pre-existing condition, they must pay out 80% of the premiums received for medical care, they must allow children to stay on parent's insurance until age 26, working class families can get a subsidy to help them purchase insurance, and Medicaid has been expanded to help the poor get medical coverage (in a majority of states).

Those are all good things, and the number of insured Americans has been significantly reduced (and could be further reduced if Republican governors and legislators would cooperate). But while I have no desire to go back to the pre-Obamacare system, which was much worse, we have to admit that Obamacare was far from perfect. It did not cover all Americans with health insurance, and it did not reduce the cost of health care in this country. Note the charts below.

These charts are from a new Gallup Poll -- done between November 4th and 8th of a random national sample of 1,021 adults, with a margin of error of 4 points. It shows that nearly one-third of all Americans (31%) currently delay needed medical care because of the cost -- and 19%, nearly one out of every five people, are putting off medical care for a serious medical condition.

That's unacceptable. It is just a fact that the United States spends more per patient for medical care than any other developed nation in the world. It's because we don't consider medical care to be a right of all citizens. Our leaders still consider it to be a product available to those who can afford it, and thanks to that we still have a system of for-profit medical care -- and those providers act like other businesses by continually trying to maximize those profits.

A government-run single-payer system could solve both the problem of coverage for all and cost of care. Even if we wanted to continue allowing doctors, clinics, and hospitals to operate on a for-profit basis (like Canada and France do), it would allow the government to negotiate with providers for a reasonable price and bring down costs. It works in other countries, and it could work here.

It would also work for the cost of prescribed medications (which are also higher in the United States than in any other developed nation). Currently, it is against the law for the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies (for government programs like Medicare and Medicaid). That's ridiculous. A single-payer system would be able to negotiate drug prices (like other countries do).

Obamacare did a lot of good, but it really just put a lot of band-aids on a system that is still broken. We need a single-payer system of insurance -- and the sooner, the better.

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