By Gerald Friedman
Yes, Chelsea, President Sanders would dismantle Obamacare, the CHIP program–and, indeed, the entire system of private health insurance. And good riddance to it. Instead of relying on a patchwork of programs and a leaky safety net, under the Sanders plan, everyone would have health insurance, guaranteed regardless of employment, without copayments or deductibles, and with free choice of provider. Instead of begging for health care from insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and other for-profit businesses, we would all have access to care as a right of citizenship. Just like people in every other advanced capitalist country.
Under Senator Sanders’ proposal, the United States would pay for universal access to health care because we would no longer be wasting money on the inefficient and bloated private insurance system. Simplifying the administration of payments by replacing multiple insurers with a single government agency, like Medicare, would save nearly $200 billion. Billing activities would also be enormously simplified in providers’ offices and hospital billing departments because all bills would go to one insurer, saving another $200 billion. While a system of thousands of competing private insurers cannot stand up against powerful drug companies and must-have hospitals, a single payer system like that proposed by Senator Sanders would wring monopoly profits out of our health care system. If we paid only as much as Canadians or Europeans pay for drugs, only as much as does the Veteran’s Administration, then Americans would save over $100 billion on their prescriptions.
In all, Senator Sanders’ proposal would save us well over $500 billion in the first year with growing savings thereafter while the single-payer agency restrains the continuing accumulation of monopolistic profit and bureaucratic bloat. These savings would allow us to provide access to health care to the millions who remain without insurance, and the millions more who remain underinsured by policies with such large deductibles or cost-sharing that they remain vulnerable to financial ruin.
For the privilege of receiving inadequate health insurance through private companies, Americans can expect over the next decade to pay over $13 trillion in, what amounts to, private taxes imposed by insurers on behalf of the government that mandates that we have health insurance. Add to this, another $5 trillion that under the Clinton health program we can expect to pay in out-of-pocket spending for medical costs not covered by health insurance. Instead, with Sanders’ single payer plan, we would save enough in reduced administrative waste and monopoly profits that we could cover everyone’s medical needs and still take home savings of over $1,700 per person per year for the next decade.
Better health care at a lower cost: why isn’t Hillary Clinton campaigning for single payer?