The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Jane Bryant Quinn: Yes, We Can All Be Insured

with 6 comments

Possibly for less than we’re paying now …

Jane Bryant QuinnQuinn has a brilliant, brief analysis at Newsweek and MSNBC that puts the objections to universal healthcare to bed. I’ll excerpt her talking points; go to the article for supporting data. This is pretty exciting …

“[W]e have an excellent template for universal care right under our noses: good old American Medicare. When you think of reform, think ‘Medicare for all.’ Medicare is what’s known as a single-payer system. In the U.S. version, the government pays for health care delivered in the private sector. There’s one set of comprehensive benefits, with premiums, co-pays and streamlined paperwork. …

“Health insurers hate this model, which would end their gravy train.” …

So here are some of the objections you’ll be hearing, along with her responses:

Universal coverage costs too much. No—what costs too much is the system we have now. In 2005, the United States spent 15.3 percent of gross domestic product on health care for only some of us. France spent 10.7 percent and covered everyone. …

Medicare’s overhead is just 1.5 percent, compared with 13 to 16 percent in the private sector. …

Eeeek, your taxes would go up! Maybe not … Both the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting Office have testified that the United States could insure everyone for the money we’re spending now. …

We get world-class care; don’t tamper with it. On average, we don’t. International surveys put France in first place. …

They have long waiting times. No advanced country has waiting periods for emergency surgery or procedures that are urgently needed. … Many countries that cover everyone, including France, Belgium, Germany and Japan, report no issue with waits at all. …

There’s no problem; people get care even if they’re uninsured. They don’t. They get emergency treatment but little else. As a group, the uninsured are sicker, suffer more from chronic disease and rarely get rehabilitation after an injury or surgery. They also die sooner—knowing that, with insurance, they might have lived.

So, we could cover more people for less money without decreasing the quality of care or increasing wait time. What’s the problem?

The problem is ideology. You’ll hear whispers suggesting the imminent demise of the American Way: Socialism! Government control! Loss of choice! The latter two, in fact, were recently invoked by the President when promising to veto extending health insurance to 3.3 million uninsured children.

Now, really. Half a century after Joe McCarthy, have we still no shame? Are we so hard-hearted as to let our neighbors sicken and die for the sake of an ideological bias?

We can care well and economically for all of us. Wouldn’t it be one of America’s greatest achievements?

Tags: , , , , , , Monte Asbury

Written by Monte

August 26, 2007 at 8:21 pm

Posted in healthcare, Politics

6 Responses

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  1. Thanks, Rick! I’m sorry you’ve got that health business hanging over your head.
    I certainly understand the sense that government does mess things up. But if you want a shot of hope, take a look at Frontline’s Sick Around the World. It really is amazing what other governments in capitalistic democracies have been able to do. Some (Austria, I think), were fiercely anti-government, but now agree that taking the step was good for the country and they’re glad they did. Here’s a trailer on it, and you can watch the program on the web. Frontline’s “Sick Around the World” Now on the Web


    June 25, 2008 at 4:04 pm

  2. There has to be a better way but every time I consider the government as single payer I shudder. I’ve gone without insurance going on four years and knock on wood I’ve remained upright and breathing with no complications that I am aware of. But I know it’s only a matter of time. I’ve had one heart attack and triple bypass surgery so I know the odds of revisiting that scenario are relatively likely. It would help me sleep better knowing I had insurance and that if and when I need medical care I won’t have to go bankrupt. Perhaps that’s just a pipe dream.
    Yes there has to be a better way. The old cliches of ‘I’m from the government and I’ve come to help’ leap to mind, the government’s handling of Saddam Hussein and Hurricane Katrina come to mind, the search for Bin Laden, the public education system…..I know there have to be places where it shines. I can only hope that universal health care will one day be one of those shining examples.

    Rick Reiley

    June 25, 2008 at 6:52 am

  3. Interesting, opit, and something of a measure of how drunken we are on the idea that free markets always do better – that Congress thought Medicare represented an added cost for America is amusing!
    In fact, I can’t think of anything that would stimulate the economy as greatly as not worrying about healthcare. Think of the thousands of men and women who would start their own businesses tomorrow if they didn’t have to lose their healthcare to do so. And think of the reduction in the cost of American goods, if the price of company-paid healthcare didn’t have to be added-in to every product. GM maintains $2,000 of every American auto price is fringe benefits.
    And think of the thousands of hours of lost productivity that men and women without preventive healthcare sacrifice!
    Man, it seems like such a slam-dunk to me!


    June 16, 2008 at 8:21 pm

  4. I read this debate interminably at Ezra Klein’s old site. The lowdown came from a doctor who was thoroughly choked at the ringamarole and waste when he just wantred to practice medicine ( I won’t even touch malpractice complications ! ).
    Congress pretty much laid it out when we were preparing to have Free Trade inflicted on us. There was consideration that Medicare costs might affect the proposed ( nonsense ) ‘level playing field’. Conclusion ? Rather than being an added cost, it worked to Canada’s advantage !


    June 15, 2008 at 1:32 am

  5. […] a look at Jane Bryant Quinn: Yes, We Can All Be Insured. Or Physicians for a National Healthcare […]

  6. My favorite site on healthcare is this one:

    Physicians for a National Health Program

    It expands on the excellent points you have in this post and completely debunks the one payer nay sayers.

    The scientifically impossible I do right away
    The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer

    Monte Says: Ah, thanks for the good link!


    August 27, 2007 at 6:00 pm

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