Doctors and Medicare For All

by Ed Sawicki - November 20, 2019

Medicare For All

I had a chance to discuss Medicare For All with a doctor this week. He began by parroting the claims of the Republicans and Democratic moderates who say it's too expensive. It took about five to seven minutes to give him information that seemed to turn him around. I presented my arguments quickly in approximately this order:

  1. The existing health care system is more expensive for those with health insurance than M4A would be for them. I had to remind him that health insurance premiums have been increasing at rates higher than inflation for decades. Copays, deductables, and coinsurance have been increasing as well. He nodded in agreement.
  2. At least 20 percent of existing health care dollars are spent on administrative costs and profits. The administrative cost of Medicare is about 2 percent and no money is taken away for profit. The U.S. spends about $3.5 trillion for health care each year. The 18 percent savings is $630 billion, which buys a lot of health care for the uninsured and underinsured. Say that each uninsured person's health care cost is $10,000 a year. The $630 billion pays for about 63 million people!
  3. The Obama-era Affordable Care Act was an improvement in terms of preexisting conditions and increasing the number of people who could afford coverage but it left many problems unsolved. I asked, "How can a moral society allow people to die because they have to ration their insulin or cut their pills in half?"
  4. I told him that the largest nurses organization, National Nurses United, with 150,000 members, endorsed Medicare For All.
  5. I mentioned (before he could) that the American Medical Association (AMA) doesn't want a single-payer system like M4A. Their members tend to be wealthy (wealthier than typical patients certainly) and would lose money and industry perks. However, a health care practitioner meritocracy could allow doctors of exceptional performance to receive bonuses.
  6. I asked how much time in his workday was spent doing “the paperwork” the current system imposes on him instead of practicing medicine.

I had numerous other points to make, such as the high cost of his malpractice insurance, but these points seemed enough for him.

Copyright © 2019 by Ed Sawicki