A better solution: Medicare for all

Kudos to Raymond Freeman for his excellent article “Doc Martin,” Sharper Focus, 10/17.

I am a registered nurse, who spent two of my 29 years in the field working for an insurance company.  They were the worst two years of my life. My license was abused as I slowly realized my only job was to cut costs, maximize profits and deny clients health care.

It is my personal experience from inside the company that prompts me to say, Mr. Freeman is absolutely right. Insurance care is the worst health-care system money can buy, and it is both the most expensive and wasteful.

And he is also right in pointing out that it is a system that puts profit above human life. In doing so, we lose our compassion and understanding for the importance of sustaining life. Providing health care should not be a business to make money off illness and misery.

I think Mr. Freeman could have gone into more detail regarding the administrative cost of insurance care. He states “Obama Care attempts to cut it down to a mere 20 percent.”  But administrative costs now are at least 35 percent. Insurance companies need fancy buildings, denial clerks, 15 percent profit for shareholders. They need to advertise and pay their CEOs. Incredibly, the L.A. Times had a story that with just 13 salaries of the top CEOs in the insurance business, we could cover every child in America with quality health care. How is that for profit and greed? Medicare’s administrative costs, as Freeman states, are 3 percent. So medical costs could instantly be cut by one-third just by getting rid of the middlemen, the insurance companies.

I do disagree with Mr. Freeman on Republicans being to blame. They only serve as mouthpieces for the real culprits, insurance companies and their shareholders, who operate on the basis of money for money’s sake.

And yet those mouthpieces, most of them Republican, are funded by insurance companies.  The Tea Party, which has attempted more than 40 times in Congress to abolish the Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare), receives a good share of its funding from Freedom Works, which obtains its money from investments in the insurance industry. Those stocks have tripled in value in the last decade, giving more money and power to the Tea Party.

But it isn’t just republicans. Michelle Obama was in administrative health care, and Hillary Clinton was happy to receive nearly a million dollars in insurance contributions during her run for the presidency.

 

This is why it is no surprise that the best system, single payer, was allowed no discussion when the Affordable Health Care Act was passed. In fact, insurance companies spent $300 million lobbying for legislation, and received the final say when the bill was written.

They agreed then to compromise, while fighting through the courts, etc., to stop it.  And it is why we are left with so few good things in the bill, as the insurance industry attempts, through the political process, to whittle away what good is left.

 

The bottom line is that we have a health-care act that mandates that every American submit to insurance care. The act mandates that our bodies are like things, property or automobiles, when we deserve to be treated better, or like people.

Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who recently lost his seat to gerrymandering, had the best solution. He said that rather than write an 1,100 page document called the Affordable Health Care Act, and then train thousands to implement it, “Why not just change a few words to existing law? Instead of ‘Medicare for citizens over 65,’ we  change the law to read, ‘Medicare for all.’  Just a few words, and 100 percent of Americans get the same coverage I do.” Of course, Kucinich received no bribe money from the insurance lobby.

Health Care for All, single payer, or Medicare — none of these ideas is new. It was George Washington, our first president, who insisted all his troops receive medical care for free, just because they were Americans.

And Thomas Jefferson alluded to as much when he wrote, “We are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Yet without health, life is unsustainable, liberty inaccessible, and the pursuit of happiness impossible. Without our health, we have nothing.

According to a Harvard study, 45,000 Americans die annually because they have no health care or poor-quality health care.  That’s 15 times the number that died on 9/11, every year, year in, year out. And it’s likely someone you know.

If we would just listen to those more experienced, like seniors, who demand, “Don’t touch my Medicare!” Call it big government or socialized medicine, but seniors take pride in defending what is best for them.  We should all trust their age and wisdom, and demand for ourselves  what they are receiving.


Grant Marcus is a nurse living in Ventura.