Expand Medicare to include all Americans

By Jonathan Kotch, M.D.
The Herald Sun (Durham, N.C.),

The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. Five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if for refusing to buy insurance is a tax that Congress has the power to impose.

The new law does a number good things that have already gone into effect, such as extending eligibility for health insurance coverage on their parents’ policies for more than 3 million children under 26 years of age. However, these improvements come with a cost, the cost of subsidizing an unnecessary health insurance industry which consumes 20 percent to 30 percent of our health care dollars for overhead and profit.

In fact, we don’t need health insurance at all. All we need is to apply our 47 years of experience with Medicare, one of the most popular social programs in the history of the United States, to make it even better, and to start it at birth instead of at age 65. With such an approach, all Americans would be included, health care costs could be contained, people would be able to choose their health care providers, and the emphasis on primary and preventive health services would improve the quality of care for all.

Jonathan Kotch, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., resides in Durham and works with For