Medicare system for all best health care option

By Marc Lavietes, M.D.
Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, Dec. 5, 2013

Frustration with the rollout of The Affordable Care Act is understandable. We should remember that similar problems and criticisms were rampant when the Medicare program was initiated.

In fact, conflict over the proper role of government in health care reflects the classic American debate regarding the role of government per se. This Jeffersonian-Hamiltonian debate is named after the most prominent proponents of either side. Despite the dire warnings, Medicare has been successful.

Most important, readers should note these basic truths. Fifty million Americans have no health insurance. Fifty million more have grossly inadequate insurance. Only the wealthiest of Americans can survive the economic hardship accompanying a profound illness. Even in Massachusetts with an “Obamacare-like” health care system already in place, severe illness remains the major cause of personal bankruptcy.

Maintaining our current health care delivery system, as suggested by some letter writers, best serves only those few Americans who profit from it. All other industrial countries provide better health care to their citizens at substantially lower costs. This truth is often dismissed by our mainstream media under the pretext of “socialized medicine.”

While the outcome of the current battles over health care is unclear, it seems likely that those more progressive states having formed their own marketplaces will provide improved care to their citizens, albeit without cost savings. By contrast, the quality of health care in the remaining states will deteriorate. In the final analysis an improved “Medicare for all” system is the best answer.

Dr. Marc H. Lavietes resides in Bradley Beach, N.J.