Debunking insurance propaganda

To the editor,

Recently, Big Pharma, insurance companies and private hospitals formed a nonprofit called Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF) to oppose Medicare for All. They spent $143 million lobbying legislators in this effort. They also produced their first of many misleading online ads for the American public. They put a lot of money behind this ad to confuse the public for the next few weeks. Here’s a breakdown of what the ad says, (in italics):

“Today over 180 million Americans with employer-based coverage have access to affordable and quality health care.”

It’s true that 180 million Americans, just under half the country, get health insurance from their
employer. But, employee contributions to their plans have gone up an average of 21 percent over the past five years, far outstripping average wage growth. Flat wages and greater share of premium payments makes health care much less “affordable.”

And, it’s clear that the quality is not great. If you look at comparable wealthy countries, we have a lower life expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality, the highest rates of hospitalization for preventable diseases, and the highest rates of death from medical conditions. In 2019, the U.S. embarrassingly ranked 35th in quality outcomes for health, according to the World Health Organization.

“Some people are proposing we start over and eliminate employer-provided insurance.”

Technically, Medicare for All eliminates commercial for-profit insurance. The key is that under Medicare for All, you won’t need employer-provided insurance with all its waste, complexity, narrow networks and costs.

“Whether it’s called Medicare for All, single-payer or a public option.” 

Two out of three isn’t bad, but pretending that Medicare for All is a public option is an intentionally confusing lie.

Public options keep commercial insurers in place and allow them to “cherry pick” the healthiest patients, thus maintaining their profits while moving the least healthy, high-risk patients onto government insurance. It would be an improvement over what we have now, but public options won’t help control costs. Medicare for All will control spiraling health-care costs.

• “A one-size fits all health-care program means that Americans would have less choice and less control over their doctors, treatments and coverage.”

This one is a bald-faced lie. Right now, if you have the luxury of being able to afford to go to a doctor, you are restricted to “in-network” doctors and receive treatments that your insurance company approves. Under Medicare for All, you’d have the ability to go to almost any doctor of your choosing and would eliminate the profit incentive that insurance companies have.

• “It will also mean trillions of dollars in higher taxes for hardworking families, lower quality of care and longer wait times for patients.”

We already mentioned how our quality of care is actually much worse than single-payer countries. It’s true there would be new taxes to fund the improved system. But a single-payer system would save us trillions of dollars over the next 10 years in the total amount we spend for health care, and as a result, the vast majority of workers and employers would be paying significantly less than they currently pay. Perhaps employers could actually offer higher wages.

Now let’s address “wait times,” a favorite talking point. There’s no evidence that improved Medicare for All would lead to longer wait times. Americans already wait longer than almost all industrialized countries in the world. Most Americans with private insurance have such high deductibles, they often put off seeing a doctor.

“Health-care decisions would be shifted from patients and their doctors to politicians and bureaucrats.”

Right now, when your doctor decides you need medical attention, you have to hope that your insurance company will pay for it. Since the insurance company’s only responsibility is to its shareholders, it will look for any way to deny the claim. If we take the profit motive away, doctors will be able to provide the treatment you need, and you won’t have to worry about drowning in medical debt. One-third of GoFundMe pages are filled with people begging for life-saving care. And most of them have health insurance. Real people, with real diseases should not have to beg, borrow or steal to control their disease.

“America could work to improve what’s working.”

What we have now is absolutely NOT working. It’s the most expensive and bureaucratic system in the world. Nearly 30 million people are uninsured, and we have the worst health-care results of industrialized countries.

Please be aware we will keep being barraged with these propaganda-filled ads, as national improved Medicare for All gains traction with frustrated, angry and bankrupt Americans.

– Jan Phillips, Durango