Patients in need should get the care they deserve with as few obstacles to access as possible. That said, the United States is a nation with over 328 million citizens, so how can we adequately cover all Americans without breaking an already fractured healthcare system?
As we collectively search for answers, many possible solutions get bandied about. Medicare for all, a public option, and single payer terms may have flooded your airwaves in recent years, so we want to discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by each of these concepts.
WHAT IS SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE?
When clients shop for an insurance plan, they are inundated with a deluge of competing companies, each with an assortment of coverage. For example, you can buy a plan with a low monthly premium, but the insurer will inevitably cover less in the event of an injury or illness.
You must weight the pros and cons of a high deductible, for instance, when comparing insurance plans. Sure, you can save money in the short run, but you may be on the hook for a hefty medical bill after a hospital stay.
Single payer healthcare would eliminate many of these questions because it would streamline insurance into one central place. The government would subsidize plans and set prices, attempting to ensure proper coverage for every patient according to their means and medical needs.
On the flipside of this argument for comprehensive coverage, opponents of single payer healthcare worry that eliminating competition would drive up the cost for everyone. Alternately, some worry that having everyone on the same plan would slow down access to doctors, medicines, and other tangential healthcare resources.
IS THIS MEDICARE FOR ALL?
Some have dubbed the single payer concept as “Medicare for all” due to its similarities to the government-run healthcare program. If the United States moved to a truly single payer system, it would emulate the Medicare infrastructure already in place.
According to AARP, over 44 million Americans are currently enrolled in Medicare, which accounts for approximately 15% of the U.S. population. This figure is expected to balloon to 79 million in the next decade, so it is vital to assess the merits of Medicare now (before it gets overloaded with new enrollees).
Medicare enjoys a high rate of satisfaction among its recipients. An estimated 80-90% of beneficiaries on Medicare rank their experience as positive. However, this figure slides lower when disabled patients are asked to evaluate their Medicare experience. This is a troubling figure, since healthcare should be geared towards those who need it most. If recipients have trouble accessing the resources they desperately need, then we as a society need to make sure that the system works for all of us, not just the most vocal.
CONSIDER THE PUBLIC OPTION
Another buzz term you may have heard in the all-encompassing healthcare debate these days is “public option” – so let’s break it down. The “public” refers to the fact that it would be a move away from private insurance companies. Patients would be able to get coverage from the government, so they would not be vulnerable to for-profit organizations doling out care according to their profit margins.
The other half of the term – “option” – is also important to consider. Public option proponents argue that recipients would be able to choose government healthcare plans, but would not be forced into them. Hence, a public option does not result in Medicare for all, but rather Medicare for some.
According to public polling, a healthy majority of Americans favor the move to Medicare for all. Approximately 58% of respondents approve M4A (as it is sometimes abbreviated), while 34% of Americans strongly favor Medicare for all.
Should we get a second opinion?
When asked which plan would be best for their patients in need, 63.5% of physicians responded that a single payer system would be most effective. Interestingly enough, only about 52% of those same doctors believed that their colleagues would support the transition to a single payer plan in the United States.
Hence, there are many physicians and patients alike who favor single payer healthcare, yet their perceptions prevent them from sharing their views with others. Perhaps transparency is the best medicine for the overwhelming confusion clouding our ongoing discussion.
There are several opposing views that sometimes obscure our attempts to get to the core of the healthcare debate. One such issue is apparent in the realm of addiction and the role that pharmaceutical companies play in it.
ADDICTION AND BIG PHARMA
Over 67,000 Americans die every year due to drug overdoses. This is a tragic epidemic, so why can’t we all work together to stop it? The answer gets to the heart of our broken healthcare system.
Comprehensive care is expensive, but pills are relatively cheap. In an effort to provide a “quick fix” to patients in need, some insurance providers encourage prescriptions over therapy. Big pharma is happy to oblige, flooding our system with medications to dull our collective pain. This results in more addiction, more need, and more money for the powers that be.
How can we decide between government-run healthcare and for-profit endeavors? Consult those who have worked to improve healthcare for decades.
ASK THE EXPERTS
When a client needs medical attention, the last thing you want to do is get mired down in a discussion about insurance. You provide the necessary care and worry about the monetary concerns later.
But “later” can become a major headache when you are overloaded with claims and confusion. That’s why you should trust the experts on the matter. Our dedicated team has amassed over 40 years of experience in the medical field, and healthcare has evolved mightily in recent memory. We can help your clinic navigate the uncertainty between single payer and private health insurance. With Lightning Step on your side, you will emerge as an authority in your industry.