When I think of single-payer medical care for all, I always think of a dear friend who was hit by a bus in London while touring Europe with her husband.
By long-ingrained habit, when she wanted to cross the street she looked the wrong direction – those Brits drive on the wrong side of their streets and highways – and didn’t see the approaching bus.
As she stepped out she was struck by the bus mirror and pitched to the ground.
That was her first surprise. The second was almost greater.
She wasn’t billed for the ambulance ride, nor for treatment at the hospital. No separate doctor’s bills. No separate bill for lab work, imagery, etc.
No bill. Nada. Not one.
And, no, they didn’t bill her insurance company, either.
My friend was on British soil, and her medical expenses were paid by the country’s National Health Service. By contrast, foreign visitors to the United States are expected to buy foreign-visitor health insurance to cover illnesses or accidents incurred while visiting us.
My thanks to Reality-based Lefty, Chuck Pezeshki, for his very educational column, “It’s time for single payer/Medicare for All” column (DN Aug. 3 & 4). His has a very simple and easily understood explanation.
It seems to this algorithmic ignoramus that the question of the affordability of single-payer health insurance is a no-brainer.
In high school I “majored” in remedial math, which is to say it took four years of remedial math to qualify for graduation. And I suspect the teacher may have granted a gimmie or two to lift me over the state-required threshold.
Yet even I am not fooled by claims that we can’t afford single-payer health care.
It is our present system – by far the most costly in the world while ranking 19th in the world for quality – that we cannot afford.
It shouldn’t take an Einstein, or even a Pezeshki, to explain to us that the world’s costliest health-care system – in terms of per capita spending – is what’s unaffordable. And it doesn’t cover millions of people.
Here’s the kicker. As far as I know, none of these data include the cost of not providing health care to all, or the cost of under-caring for the insured.
What is the true cost of not providing adequate medical care? Premature death.
What does that cost?
Ruth and I have a daughter battling metastatic breast cancer. The American way of health care almost certainly will shorten her life as – despite her husband’s well-paying job with good health benefits (by U.S. standards) – the co-pays alone on medications that cost nearly a half-million dollars a year likely will bankrupt them.
If their trial plays out as so many in America do, they ultimately will lose their house, investments in retirement funds, etc.
What is the cost of that?
No one in politics even wants to know, and less try to find out.
America’s politicians have been shanghaied by corporations competing for short-term profits and our voters’ understanding of politics has been reduced to a preschool level.
Gullible voters make their decisions based on trite sound bites that reinforce their prejudices, no matter how ridiculous they are.
Terence L. Day is a retired Washington State faculty member. He has lived in Pullman since 1972.