PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

May 1, 2011

Healthcare for All

Filed under: — frosty @ 8:31 pm

We support enhanced Medicare for everyone. By replacing private insurers and what they spend annually on administrative costs, advertising expenses, high executive salaries, and recouping savings up to $300 billion per year, this single-payer approach provides top-notch care for everyone.

Currently, health care costs account for approximately 20 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the decade from 1996 to 2006, the cost of health insurance in the U.S. has doubled and a recent study found that insured families are paying a “hidden tax of more than $1000” a year to help cover the cost of the uninsured in this country. Among the industrialized world, not only do U.S. patients pay more for their health care than any other, but there are more uninsured U.S. residents than any other. Worst of all, according to studies conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Commonwealth Fund, not only do we pay more for health care than any other first-world country, but that high cost doesn’t translate to better care.

For instance, patients who receive a kidney transplant in the U.S. have a much lower five-year survival rate than England, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. In fact, with the exception of breast cancer, the U.S. ranks from the middle to the back of the pack for five-year survival rates for a number of serious illnesses.

Cost and lack of insurance aren’t the only problems with our current health care system. It all might not seem so bad if salaries had increased at the same rate as health care costs, but we all know that’s not the case; health care costs have severely outpaced salaries in the last ten to 20 years. What’s more, a 2009 New York Times article states:

Research by Katherine Baicker and Amitabh Chandra of Harvard have found that, on average, a 10 percent increase in health premiums leads to a 2.3 percent decline in inflation-adjusted pay. Victor Fuchs, a Stanford economist, and Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist now in the Obama administration, published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year that nicely captured the tradeoff. When health costs have grown faster over the two decades, they wrote, wages have grown slowest, and vice versa.

And though the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress hail the recent passage of health care reform as a great success, the bill leaves virtually intact the biggest problem of the U.S. health care system: the insurance companies responsible for denying claims, raising costs to ensure their profit margins will continue to exist even after the final implementation of the law.

Under a single-payer system, care would be privately delivered by healers and hospitals, but publicly financed–with no bills, co-pays, deductibles, denials, or medically precipitated bankruptcies. PDH also supports health care initiatives at the state and local level that move us toward a non-profit single-payer system of health care.

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