Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Growing Support for a Single Payer Healthcare System

Last evening the husband and I were reviewing plan options for his salon staff (and us since I am about to roll off of coverage through my former employer that was far cheaper due to the size of the company).  The best description is to say that there are NO attractive options with the costs for us as a couple totaling to well over $1,500 per month ($18,000 per year).  That exceeds the individual annual payments on any of the mortgages on our properties and exceeds what we spend per year even when my hand surgery last year is factored in.  The winners in this game, of course, are the health insurance companies which laugh all the way to the bank.  It's little wonder that (i) health insurance companies are nearly universally hated and (ii) that more and more Americans - other than the wealthy, of course - support a single payer system.  A column in the Washington Post looks at this trend which collides head on with the GOP's effort to throw Americans off of insurance coverage to pad the wallets of the wealthy and insurance companies.  Here are excerpts:
Despite the rise of the tea party and unified Republican control of government, one decidedly anti-free-market idea appears ascendant: single-payer health care.
And it’s no wonder, given that a record-high share of the population receives government-provided health insurance. As a country, we’ve long since acquiesced to the idea that Uncle Sam should give insurance to the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities, poor adults, poor kids, pregnant women and the lower middle class.
Many Americans are asking: Why not the rest of us, too?
A recent survey from the Economist/YouGov found that a majority of Americans support “expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American.” Similarly, a poll from Morning Consult/Politico showed that a plurality of voters support “a single payer health care system, where all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan.”
Divining the longer-term trend in attitudes toward this idea is difficult, as the way survey questions on the topic are asked has changed over time. Views of a health-care system in which all Americans get their insurance from the government single payer vary a lot depending on how you frame the question. Calling it “Medicare for all,” for example, generally elicitsmuch stronger approval, while emphasizing the word “government” tends to depress support.
But at the very least, some survey questions that have remained consistent in recent years show support has been rising back up over the past few years for the broader idea that the federal government bears responsibility for making sure all Americans have health-care coverage.
The increase in the share of Americans on government insurance is partly due to demographics (baby boomers aging into Medicare) and partly due to deliberate policy changes growing the pool of Americans eligible for government insurance (such as the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion).
In both the recent YouGov and Morning Consult polls, for example, the age group most opposed to single payer was the only one that basically already has it: those 65 and up. In other words, single payer for me but not for thee.
That’s not because older Americans hate their experience with Medicare and wouldn’t wish something similar upon their worst enemy. To the contrary, those on Medicare are more satisfied with how the health-care system works for them than people on private insurance are, according to Gallup survey data.
Rather, seniors are probably worried that expanding government coverage to more Americans could put their own generous benefits at risk. 
Trump supporters with deep hostility toward Obamacare, among other government programs. Some of these Trump supporters are, perhaps puzzlingly, themselves Obamacare beneficiaries, receiving government subsidies for private insurance on the individual exchanges. But often what these Trump voters say they want is not a return to pre-Obamacare days; rather, they want in on the great insurance deal that they think their lazy, less-deserving neighbors are getting.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and his congressional compatriots seem to further believe — despite all evidence to the contrary — that the private sector is on the verge of some innovation that will magically reduce health-care costs and give all Americans the coverage and care they yearn for. 

Americans as a whole pay through the nose for the least efficient and most costly health care system in the world.  Why can't this country learn from the experience of other advanced nations and opt for universal coverage and a single payer system?  Two reasons, I suspect: (i) many of the wealthy don't give a damn about their fellow citizens, and (ii) the evangelical Christians hate most of their fellow citizens and want to keep their monies for themselves.  

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