Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Single-Payer Health Care Would Save Millions of Jobs and Thousands of Working-Class Lives Per Year

Dr. Carol Paris was one of 13 people arrested for protesting for single-payer health care on the US Senate floor. HMOs, pharmaceutical corporations, and for-profit hospital corporations spend billions of dollars funding US politicians to maintain the status quo, which means millions of personal bankruptcies and jobs lost and tens of thousands prematurely dead.

The US has possibly the worst health care system in the post-industrial world. Approximately 50 million US inhabitants do not have medical insurance and 45,000 die each year due to lack of medical care.1,2 Not only are health outcomes poor, they are expensive. The U.S. spends twice as much as comparable nations on health care, $7,129 per person, while half of all people who experience personal bankruptcy, a number in the millions, do so because of medical bills.3

The US medical system ruins workers who are well in addition to those who become sick or injured. "A 20% increase in [medical insurance] premiums costs 3.5 million workers their jobs, causes millions more to move from full-time to part-time work, and cuts the average income by approximately $1,700. CBO [the Congressional Budget Office] predicts that this 20% increase will occur over the next four years."4

One cure for this health care crisis would be single-payer health care, which would cut out high-cost medical insurance companies.

According to Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman:

"The great advantage of universal, government-provided health insurance is lower costs. Canada’s government-run insurance system has much less bureaucracy and much lower administrative costs than our largely private system. Medicare has much lower administrative costs than private insurance. The reason is that single-payer systems don’t devote large resources to screening out high-risk clients or charging them higher fees. The savings from a single-payer system would probably exceed $200 billion a year, far more than the cost of covering all of those now uninsured."4