Caledonian Record

Opponents of Medicare for All like to scare people by warning about a “government takeover” of health care. Let’s get serious: American health care was taken over long ago by insurance companies and other commercial interests. We need to take health care back from them.

The commercial takeover has reduced American health care to a maddening money pit. Health insurance premiums are tied to the amount of money insurers will have to pay out to doctors and hospitals. The fees doctors and hospitals charge include money to compensate for the enormous amounts of time they spend on paperwork and administration—18.5 hours a week for internal medicine doctors, 13.2 hours for dermatologists, per a recent survey. Much of that time is spent dealing with the insurance companies.

Once doctors and hospitals submit their bills to the insurance companies, the insurer spends time evaluating, processing and rejecting or approving claims.  All this administrative time also gets built into the insurance company premium.

Some premiums are paid by individuals, some by employers.  Amounts paid by employers get factored into the cost of the products and services they sell.  Amounts paid by individuals reduce how much money they have available to pay for the goods and services.

If the individual or employer is a government unit, the money spent on premiums comes from taxes paid by everybody.  The higher the premium, the higher the tax needed.  This tax gets factored into the household budgets of taxpayers, further reducing the amount of money available to pay for goods and services.

Individuals also spend considerable amounts of unpaid time dealing with the medical bills they receive for amounts that are not covered by their insurance (assuming they have insurance).  Is the amount billed accurate? Is the amount really not covered by the insurance?  Exactly how to they go about finding out?

Both individuals and employers put in unpaid amounts of time figuring out whether they should keep or change their health insurer, keep or change the type of policy they have, and adjust features of the policy like deductibles and co-pays.

I haven’t even mentioned price gouging drug companies, private equity firms buying up medical practices, the huge amount of medical debt that more and more people struggle under ….

Take health care back from the commercial interests that are strangling it.


Lee Russ