Health should be bottom line

To the editor,

A new Harris Poll found that only 16 percent of U.S. residents believe health insurance corporations put patients before profits. Pharmaceutical companies (9 percent), hospitals (23 percent) and doctors (36 percent) also came up on the wrong end of the patients-first question.

Despite the Affordable Care Act, the cost of health insurance and pharmaceuticals keeps rising as patients are forced to pay more through co-pays and deductibles. And, still, coverage is often denied.

Dr. Sanjeev Sriram, a pediatrician and health policy advisor, wrote that he once believed the insurance industry would become better partners through the ACA’s reasonable guidelines. Not anymore.

“I have lost faith and accepted the insurance corporations for what they are: machines of unappeasable greed, accountable only to shareholders, never my patients,” he said. Sriram pointed out that, in 2018, as millions of Americans borrowed $88 billion to pay for health care, 62 CEOs of health care companies raked in a combined $1.1 billion in salaries.

“When it comes to our current health-care system’s priorities,” Sriram concluded, “patients are no match for profits.”

In order to restore faith in the system, the “bottom line” needs to be health. If health care is a human right, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights championed by Eleanor Roosevelt and signed in 1948, then it cannot also be a commodity. The two are incompatible.

Improved Medicare for All, a publicly funded system, will be a first step in restoring the trust and health of our people.

– Jan Phillips, Durango