Opinion: Medicare turns 45! Here’s what it means for the presidential cycle upon us

The mark of a civilized society is the dignity with which we treat all people.

The mark of a civilized society is the dignity with which we treat all people.

Our current health care system harms people. We can fix that. Listen to which presidential candidate wants to fundamentally shift the business of medicine into an equitable, wellness-based model of care. Health is not a “commodity.” It cannot be replaced. Medicare for All would provide a lifeline to rural, urban and other under-served communities. Women, particularly women of color, have disproportionately suffered from wage inequality. I have had too many patients who feel they must stay married to an abusive man, or can’t quit a toxic work environment because they can’t afford to lose health benefits.

The biggest loser in Medicare for All would be the insurance industry and the specialists. I feel bad for the insurance personnel — but Medicare for All reform features significant investment in vocational re-training. The insurance giants (Aetna, Blue Cross, Cigna etc) have products in many other arenas (property insurance, car insurance etc) and they would survive. Currently because most patients (consumers) have no idea what a visit to the doctor or hospital is going to cost them, there is no incentive for the providers to control costs. The “shield” between the buyer and the seller completely perverts the free market system. Some universal health care nay-sayers are concerned about losing their Cadillac retirement insurance, but we must all realize the private health insurers simply have not provided good value.

One cannot render health financially interesting unless the buck stops at a single payer. Medicare for All (federal HR 1384) would cover doctor visits, hospitalizations, vision, dental, mental health and long term care. These costs will be covered by a modest tax on those with net worth above $50 million and by getting rid of the insurance component, which accounts for 25-35% of unnecessary expenses foisted onto consumers. Let’s go for health, personal and planetary, and what’s best for most.

Dr. Emily Kane,

Founding member, Alaska chapter of Physicians for a National Healthcare Policy,

Juneau


• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.