Single-payer system would save American lives, money

By Richard A. Damon, M.D.
Bozeman Chronicle, Letters, Sept. 25, 2012

The nation should be ashamed that we allowed 48,000 people to die of preventable deaths in 2011. The persistence of 48.6 million uninsured people (2011 Census Bureau) and their related deaths reveals the urgency of enacting an improved Medicare-for-All type system. An untreated preventable death occurred every 11 minutes in 2011. Tens of thousands of people die every year because they lack health insurance. Does the nation really care that people are dying of preventable diseases by the thousands? The Congressional Budget Office estimates the unsustainable costs of our money-driven health care system, embraced by insurance and drug corporations, will continue, and 30 million people will still be uninsured in 2022, even under the provisions of the Accountable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

The situation can be expected to grow worse as employers continue to shift health care costs to their workers because of escalating premiums.

The insurance and drug company profits will grow, while benefits diminish and premiums rise, increasing under-insured enrollees.

Uninsured individuals and families are now realizing more each day they cannot afford the increasing insurance costs and consequently are losing accessibility to care. The crisis is made worse for those who have unexpected illness. More treatable diseases and chronic conditions will go untreated, and the general health of the nation will continue to decline.

There is an answer to this situation. It requires the public to demand that Congress move quickly to a National Single Payer Health Care program that provides more efficient, effective, affordable, universal, equitable, available, accountable, high quality, and comprehensive health care. At the same time we can rid ourselves of the scourge of insurance and drug company related waste, bureaucracy and profiteering.

The opportunity to pursue good health is a human right. A single-payer system would save both American lives and money.

Dr. Richard A. Damon resides in Bozeman.