Oppose for-profit cartels through Medicare for All

Our friend, a painter, just got stung by a wasp because he couldn't afford an Epipen. What wrong with this picture?

by Bill Semple and Burton St. John

Read a 2020 version of this article in the Boulder Daily Camera

We all need good health care. The good news is we can all be covered, spend less, and have better care. Improved Medicare for all will get us there.

In the meantime, we’re up against vested interests. In fact, there is a similarity between a thief with a gun in a dark alley and our insurance, drug, and big hospital corporations: they both say, “it’s your money or your life.”

Representing the voice of the insurance, drug, and hospital corporations is the benign-sounding Partnership for America’s Health Care Future. They spend their millions to scare off voters and politicians from creating a public option to pay for health care, to distract us from what the majority of Americans now want — Medicare for us all.

So, this is how we’ve come to be spending almost twice as much per person for health care as in the many countries that have universal health care systems. And we have poorer health outcomes. And, even before the pandemic, 7 to 9 million Americans have been driven into poverty paying for needed health care.

For-profit insurance companies will always have the wrong incentives: collect premiums and not pay for health care. This is how shareholders and top executives rake millions of our health care dollars into their pockets. 

Let’s get out of the dark alley and spend less to cover everyone with great health care. For-profit insurance is unfixably broken. We know what’s worked for over half a century — Medicare. Let’s improve it and offer it to everyone.

We can assure that essential workers have and can afford the health care that is essential. We can address the health accessibility inequities experienced by black, brown, and Indigenous communities.

We need the administrative simplicity and dependability of improved Medicare for all. We need the cost savings from lower overhead and the price-negotiating power that comes when everyone is covered by a single, not-for-profit payer.

Imagine life, when all friends and families are assured of and can afford the care we all need.

Bill Semple, Board Chair, Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care
Burton St. John III, Professor, Public Relations, CU-Boulder