Let's adopt Single Payer Health Insurance

By Richard Weiskopf, M.D.
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, N.Y.), Letters, Oct. 8, 2013

Every day we read in The Post-Standard about how complicated the Affordable Care Act is and what a large number of pages it is. Its popularity can be seen by the millions who registered for health insurance on the first day of enrollment -- so many that computer systems went down due to overload. The ACA is definitely one step in the right direction toward improving our dysfunctional health care system. But we need to go further and adopt Single Payer -- not politically realistic today, but we need to work toward it.

It is very unfortunate that early in the negotiations and writing of the ACA that the option of Single Payer Insurance was thrown out. This of course was due to pressure from the insurance industry.

The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, HR 676, introduced into the 113th Congress by Rep. John Conyers Jr. and 37 initial co-sponsors, would establish a single authority responsible for paying for medically necessary healthcare for all residents of the United States.

According to Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH and Andrew D. Coates, MD of Physicians for a National Health Program, "the ACA, even if implemented perfectly, will still leave 30 million uninsured and tens of millions of Americans with diminished access to care due to high co-pays and deductibles."

The private insurance industry rakes in huge profits from our healthcare system and an inordinately large percentage of the money we spend on health care goes to their administrative costs. In addition, the country's healthcare practitioners are controlled and dictated by the business interests of the insurance companies.

Woolhandler and Coates go on to say, "...economic analysis (see Gerald Friedman, PhD, in PNHP Newsletter, Fall, 2013) shows that H.R. 676, single payer legislation, could save $592 billion annually on administrative costs and drug prices, enough to cover all the uninsured and eliminate co-payments and deductibles for everyone else."

I suggest that readers contact PNHP to learn more and urge their representatives in Congress to be a co-sponsor of HR 676.

Dr. Richard Weiskopf lives in Syracuse.