I am completely on board with Universal Healthcare. I believe that nobody should ever have to worry about having to choose between paying a copay or buying a prescription and paying their rent or mortgage. We should never be so concerned with what it’s going to cost to seek treatment that we just choose to suffer through it instead. I’ve heard the criticism about the push for universal healthcare, and as an HR/Benefits person - I hear you, but I firmly believe that nobody really LOVES their insurance because we’ve been fooled by those who stand to lose the most if we ever decide to prioritize the health of our friends and neighbors. Let’s look at this logically. If you are insuring a family of 4, how much are you paying PER CHECK for premiums alone? Between 6-10% depending on the level of coverage you were offered. Then, after that is deducted from your check, you have to meet a deductible (how much you have to pay out of pocket) before that insurance you’ve already been paying - even contributes a dime toward your procedure. Further, once you’ve met that deductible, you still have to pay your copay (what you pay at the window when you check in) and then usually - 20% (or more!) of the total cost of the procedure.
Once you break down what you are actually paying for your insurance, you still have to cut through red tape, get referrals and approvals - often done by case managers rather than the medical professionals who are treating you.
Insurance companies care about their bottom line - not whether you can afford your dialysis or chemo.
What if you could eliminate all of that? The amount you are paying out of each check? The amount of out-of-pocket costs you have to pay? What if your procedure was totally covered?
It can happen - I promise! Here’s how:
It’s estimated that such a plan would cost about 1.5 trillion dollars a year. To pay for it, we would tax employers at about 6% (which they shouldn’t complain about because this plan releases them from the staggering cost of providing healthcare) and we - the individual - would pay between 2-3% healthcare tax on our earnings. We are already paying that in premiums alone. We would also tax those who make more than 250K every year at a higher rate, and the more money you earn - the more you’d pay in taxes.
More on taxes later though….
To address the concern that there will long waiting times for procedures because “that’s what happening in Canada,” let’s refer to Christopher Hayes - a bigwig over at a research organization right in Canada.
He said in an interview that if you are in need of a surgery - you don’t wait. You’re prioritized based on necessity, and isn’t that kind of how it works at the ER anyway?
We would also offer a concierge-type of plan to people who want additional benefits outside of a universal plan - things like dental implants, orthodontics, cosmetic procedures or laser vision correction.
If we upgrade our medical records systems to make healthcare information easier to understand and more accessible to the people who need it - while cutting out all the bureaucratic red tape that insurance companies insist on keeping around - that will help to eliminate wait times and streamline a clunky process.
We also need to make it easier for people who want to go in to healthcare - to do so. If you commit to serving a specific amount of time in rural or underserved communities - you’ll get most or all of your school covered. We will work with folks who are well-versed in medical malpractice and figure out how to revamp it so that it doesn’t keep deterring people from becoming doctors.
Prescriptions, vision, dental, and most importantly - mental health care - would all be covered.
Don’t even get me started on the total lack of mental health care - especially for our country’s most vulnerable - our kids. As the mom of a 15 year old with some significant challenges - I’ve been trying to navigate a completely broken system for the past 10 years. If the provider is seeing new patients, they aren’t seeing kids. Or, they don’t take your insurance and its $500 for an appointment. Or if they do take insurance, they don’t have an appointment for three months. The system does not work for those in crisis, and we are seeing the tragic effects far too often.
We MUST start treating mental health care like a national crisis - because that’s what it is. Our kids start suffering from PTSD very early on because they are carrying around bulletproof backpacks and doing active shooter drills in 2nd grade. We need to establish a separate coalition that actively works to address mental health - from the root causes down to how if often manifests - violence and addiction - and try to save our kids before they grow up with untreated mental health challenges. From more qualified providers from which to choose, to training providers on the intricacies of treating kids - this coalition would work on this initiative every day.
The price to live in a civilized society is financial contribution. Once we recognize that and realize that healthcare is a human right - not a privilege accessible only to those who can afford it - we will start to move toward life, liberty and the pursuit of HEALTH!
If you believe in this vision - I ask you to share this post and ask others to share it too.