Less expensive and far better

By Suzanne Lindgren
The Osceola (Wis.) Sun, Jan. 13, 2017

In a trio of tweets last week, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he was ready for an improved plan for health insurance in America.

“The Democrats,” he wrote on Thursday, “lead by head clown Chuck Schumer, know how bad ObamaCare is and what a mess they are in. Instead of working to fix it, they do the typical political thing and BLAME. The fact is ObamaCare was a lie from the beginning. … It is time for Republicans & Democrats to get together and come up with a healthcare plan that really works — much less expensive & FAR BETTER!”

With all the international traveling Trump does, I’m sure he knows that a model for a much less expensive & FAR BETTER plan already exists: single payer.

Such a system would replace private insurance with a single fund to pay doctors and hospitals. Yes, that fund would probably be run by a government agency, but most countries with a single payer system also keep some aspects of private insurance.

I lived in Canada for a few years in my late teens and early twenties, and was always astounded by the ease with which Canadians visited the doctor.

They didn’t have to check to see whether the doctor they wanted to visit was included in their plan. They didn’t obsess over the potential bill and whether they could afford it. They didn’t fill out piles of paperwork to get coverage and then research which particular maladies were covered by their plan and which weren’t.

They just went.

I was jealous. I still am.

Our system is not only expensive, it’s confusing, time consuming, and diverts funds to a middleman who often seems to be trying to keep us from getting the benefits we pay for.

The average Canadian receives better care than the average American and, on the whole, their single-payer system costs less than our labyrinthine market of insurance providers.

This hit home after Strummer’s birth when I spent hours (what felt like several days’ worth) on hold and filling out forms to organize his insurance.

I was thankful I had a break from work to attend to the matter, but I would have much rather been focusing my attention on my child. It almost made it worse that I knew it didn’t have to be this way — and in many places, it isn’t.

My guess is you have your own story of frustration with the system we have in place. I don’t think many are happy with it.

In fact, a 2016 Gallup Poll found that a majority of Americans, 58 percent, were in favor of replacing the Affordable Care Act with a federally funded system.

Although Democrats were more likely to support the idea, with 73 percent in favor, a significant number of Republicans, 41 percent, were on board too.

That’s not entirely surprising. Although single-payer would mean an increase in taxes, it would be balanced by the elimination of premiums and out-of-pocket costs. For employers it seems like an even bigger win, with savings multiplied by the number of employees.

Single-payer — dubbed Medicare for All by proponents — may not be the system Trump has in mind, but it seems like a good time to voice support for a plan people want — one that’s proven itself to be “much less expensive & FAR BETTER” than what we have now.

I welcome your response to this editorial column:

Suzanne Lindgren is editor of The Osceola Sun.