Simplifying Health Care

“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” – Pres. Donald Trump, Feb. 27, 2017

Shortly after I bought my first house, a toilet handle broke. I am not much of a do-it-yourselfer. However, even I knew that fixing a broken toilet handle is a five-minute job. I had done it quickly and easily before.

Removing the old handle was easy enough. I confidently went to put the square mounting nut in the hole. It would not fit. I looked and somebody had used a round metal mounting nut, so I needed to remove that. I got a screwdriver and tried to pry it loose. That nut was glued tight to the tank. Nobody in his right mind would do that. I figure the former owner’s brother-in-law was a plumber who owned a supply store filled with nonstandard parts that he needed to sell.

I tried hitting the screwdriver with a hammer, but decided to stop for fear of cracking the tank. I started filing the metal piece, and it was taking forever. Off to the hardware store to see what might help. I found a file drill bit and bought that. After about four hours of filing spread over two days, the metal piece popped loose. I then replaced the handle in less than five minutes.

Now imagine we had that extra metal piece on every toilet, and that there are thousands of different metal pieces, each requiring a slightly different procedure to remove it. Suddenly replacing a toilet handle becomes very complicated.

When it comes to health care, it becomes complicated because we insist on adding multitudes of those unnecessary metal pieces called health insurance companies. It is made even worse because each metal piece can have many variations with their different policies, each requiring its own separate procedure to “replace the toilet handle.” It gets complicated and expensive very quickly.

It is no surprise that our health insurance system is the most complicated and expensive in the world. We are the only developed nation in the world where thousands die for lack of medical care and millions lack insurance. Even with the extra expense, our health care system is at or near the bottom in most results as compared to other developed nations. We squander an extra $1 trillion dollars per year on this corporate welfare. That is money that is not available for investments in infrastructure, education, clean energy or job training.

The solution for health care is straightforward. Do not use health insurance companies. If we went to a publicly financed Medicare-for-all system, we could cover everybody, eliminate copayments and deductibles, provide the freedom for people to pick any doctor or hospital, cover more medical care such as vision and dental, and provide doctors the freedom to choose treatment based on patient need instead what the patient can afford or what the insurance companies would allow.

In addition, a Medicare-for-all system would not only bend the cost curve, it would reverse it and prevent the government from going bankrupt due to rising health care costs.

It is time to simplify our health care system.

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