The present Medicare system is a good indicator of not only what's possible, but of the ways in which health care can serve people's needs. However, Medicare is offered only to those who are over 65. Nevertheless, Medicare and Medicaid prove the positive. Those programs work well for the elderly and the poor. Even with Medicare, however, insurance companies continue to handle many aspects of your services, should you opt for a Medicare Advantage plan (an all-in-one alternative to original Medicare), in which co-pays and other costs are still the patient's responsibility.
According to Open Secrets, insurance companies, Big Pharma, and hospitals spent a staggering $143 million in 2018 alone in their lobbying efforts against any future Medicare for All plan. Nonetheless, as the National Nurses United Association has pointed out: "There has never been this much public support and momentum for Medicare for All. Eighty-five percent of democratic voters and 70% of all voters support it." With significant administrative setups already in place, thanks to Medicare and Medicaid, the expansion of those health systems to include everyone seems doable; nor is it hard to imagine that many of the workers now employed by insurance companies would be able to shift to working for an expanding single-payer or Medicare for All program.
Truly decent health care is a necessity for a society in which people do more than just survive. Health is not a negotiable matter. You can decide not to buy a new coat and so shiver through another winter, but you really can't decide to ignore sickness, disease, broken bones, or chronic illness, all of which can put lives on the line. How can any society function properly without health care available to all? How can any society survive in a reasonably decent way when so many millions of people are left with the choice of either being impoverished by illness or living with an otherwise treatable one?
Health care should be as much of a right as public education -- the right to educate all children, that is -- which was only won after its own set of lengthy struggles. After all, who can now imagine making all Americans pay for the first 12 years of schooling? Yes, we know that there are people wealthy enough to pay for whatever kind of education and health care they want, but they are hardly the majority of Americans.- Advertisement -
Good health care must not only be affordable, but also provide easy access to medical services -- to better nutrition, a healthier environment, and greater longevity. In this context, Medicare For All would be a literal lifesaver.
Finally, good health care is peace of mind, which, at present, our system does not deliver. In my case, the cost of recovery was far too high.
Beverly Gologorsky is the author most recently of Every Body Has a Story (Dispatch/Haymarket Books), as well as the novels The Things We Do To Make It Home (a New York Times Notable Book) and Stop Here (an Indie Next pick). Her work has appeared in anthologies, magazines, and newspapers, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times .- Advertisement -
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer's new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky's novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt's A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy's In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.
Copyright 2019 Beverly Gologorsky