Editorial Comment by Joanne Cvar
The 2016 election campaign is bringing media attention to health care reform, including scare tactics about the cost and viability of comprehensive universal health care.
Contrary to claims that comprehensive quality health care for everyone in the country would “break the bank,” such existing systems in Canada and Scotland spend about 40% less for universal health care coverage than we spend for our system, with better outcomes. And the Affordable Care Act currently leaves about 33 million people uninsured and many more under-insured.
Surprisingly,the cost of health care coverage for all those uninsured Americans would not raise taxes as much as the media claims. As it turns out, taxpayers already pay two-thirds of the health care dollar in the US. In addition to Medicare and Medicaid. the VA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American taxpayers, including the uninsured, pick up the tab for the benefit costs of state and federal public employees like teachers, FBI agents, firefighters and members of Congress. We also pay for the tax subsidy granted by the ACA to private health insurance, about $326 billion a year, expected to increase to $538.9 billion by 2024.
An expanded Medicare for All system in the US would result in massive savings in administrative costs. Canada and Scotland, with universal health care, pay about 16.7 cents of the health care dollar for billing and administration, while we pay about 31 cents here. We could save $400 billion annually on paperwork alone, enough to cover all of the uninsured and eliminate co-payments and deductibles for the rest of us..Without those savings, there is no way to pay for expanded coverage.
We already pay for universal health care. We just aren’t getting it. We need to counter the misinformation the media is spreading with the facts. Voters will support new taxes if they know the money will be well spent to bring health care justice to the USA at last.