Support Medicare for All bill, H.R. 676

By Richard A. Damon, M.D.
The Missoulian (Mont.), Letters, Sept. 5, 2014

If you experienced a time when you had no health care coverage, or tire of paying out-of-pocket costs for unpredicted illness, have been financially blindsided by an insurance company, are fed up with escalating costs, or are forced to accept unexpected premium raises in your employer-based insurance, you soon realize that this nation has not been wise in choosing our current health care reform.

Now that the Affordable Care Act is implemented and the dust is settling, you may begin to ask what can be done. If you are thoughtful and farsighted, you will see we are headed down the road of a completely market-based system of health care that basically forces purchase of private health insurance.

Market rhetoric telling how great choices are in the ACA marketplace, calling insurance plans “products” and us “consumers,“ is just rhetoric, and many are learning that having health insurance does not guarantee access to health care. In reality, hundreds of billions of dollars are being transferred to the private insurance industry to subsidize plans that leave people underinsured, unable to afford care, and at risk of financial ruin from serious accident or illness. ACA regulations are no match for insurance company strategies to find and exploit loopholes.

The underinsured continue to self-ration, delay or avoid care due to cost. Insurance enrollees cannot be dropped, but insurers can stop offering plans in non-profitable areas. Cancer centers and major medical centers are being left out of insurance networks. Remember, nations that consider health care a public good, not a commodity, have universal coverage that costs less and produces better outcomes.

Health care is a human right, but real health care reform faces barriers because legislators cave to private insurers. Medicare for all, HR 676, is a much better system.

Dr. Richard A. Damon resides in Bozeman.