Single-payer needed if we are to have security

Star Tribune, March 21, 2014

The closing of the Riverwood Centers represents yet another failure of a health care system based upon a dysfunctional patchwork of insurance coverage (“Center’s closing could strand mentally ill,” March 18). The combination of stalled public funding and diminishing payments from private insurance companies has brought about the demise of a crucial resource for thousands of Minnesotans who struggle with severe mental illness.

We live in a society that spends double per capita as other wealthy democracies, yet fails to meet the basic health needs of its people. It’s long past time to do what’s right — to implement a Minnesota single-payer system that would ensure that all health providers, including safety-net facilities, receive fair compensation for the services they provide. Under single-payer, all Minnesotans would have the security of knowing their health needs would always be met, without the looming threat of medical bankruptcy. And never again would they be forced to go scrambling for crisis care, as they are now.

Dr. Dave Dvorak, Minneapolis

• • •

Back in 1981, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was extensive, and most of his colon had to be removed. Horrible enough, but to add to his ordeal, when he returned from the hospital, there waiting in his mailbox was a letter from his insurance company stating that, due to his cancer diagnosis, his coverage was being canceled, effective immediately.

That day he began calling other insurance companies one by one, looking for new coverage, and every one of them turned him down. He asked if he could get coverage with a ridiculously high $10,000 deductible, and still the answer was no. In the eyes of the insurance industry, he was an untouchable.

Now, 33 years later, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, this can’t happen to anyone else. Anyone who says the ACA should be scrapped hasn’t experienced what my father went through. Is the ACA a perfect solution? No, single-payer would be better, but the ACA goes a long way toward protecting us from some of the abuses inherent in our for-profit health care system.

Bruce McFarlan, Minneapolis