The Sticking Points in Obamacare

By Elizabeth R. Rosenthal, M.D.
The New York Times, Letters, Aug. 25, 2016

Re “U.S. Prepares Enrollment Push as Insurers Balk on Health Law” (front page, Aug. 18):

How many times must it be demonstrated that health care cannot be treated like any other market commodity before our legislators get the point? This article once again confirms that affordable health care can’t be delivered using a private, for-profit system.

One cannot make a profit insuring sick people. Therefore, health insurance companies are most profitable when they avoid sick people while continuing to collect premiums from healthy customers. When this does not work, raising prices is necessary to keep profits up.

But health insurance premiums are already unaffordable for most of us. That is why the young and healthy are not buying. The only way to make health care affordable is to have everyone paying into the pot in proportion to their income while eliminating the unnecessary expensive middleman: health insurance companies.

Must we wait until only the billionaires will be able to afford health care before we join all the other industrialized countries and switch to such a government-funded single-payer system (Medicare for All)?

Dr. Elizabeth R. Rosenthal is a dermatologist. She resides in Larchmont, N.Y.