“American health care costs too much, does too little, and leaves too many people out.”
Anne J., Health Care for All Minnesota.
I am deeply concerned about the state of health care in our country. As a single mother working in the non-profit industry, more than once I was unable to access affordable health care. For instance, I was once offered health insurance by a very small non-profit, but since I was the only employee I was denied coverage by health insurance companies (even though my workplace was willing to pay for it). They denied me because I was starting to have menopause-related problems, I was getting older. The insurance companies considered this to be a pre-existing condition. This meant I could not get health insurance for myself, even worse I also could not get it for my two daughters. I knew that should something have happened during this time, we would not be able to receive the quality health care the United States is famous for.
My experiences have left me wondering why, in a country as rich and powerful as the United State, I have struggled to ensure my children were able to access basic medical care. I cannot help but wonder why so many families live without basic health care and even die because they cannot access immunizations and medication. I cannot help but wonder why many have to people delay seeking health care because they cannot afford it even when they are paying hundreds of dollars for health insurance.
In order to understand, I have spent a lot of time learning from others about the problems with our system. I have learned, that, amazingly, our health care crisis has nothing to do with a lack of resources in our country. We actually provide one of the most efficient health care systems as well as one of the most effective. We are also one of, if not the most, expensive systems in the world. We are doing everything right in our health care system, but we are failing because the cost is not aligned with the demand. This is market failure in its purest form.
Why is our health care system so expensive? The easiest answer is that our system has one of the highest administrative costs of any health care system world-wide. The multiple layers of insurance has created higher costs and has obscured the true costs of health care. Did you know it is almost impossible to find out the real cost of a medical procedure? This is how the market has failed.
Our health care system has become immune to market forces. It has created a false profit-motive by ratcheting up costs that don’t match demand and has built in an administrative burden that makes it inaccessible. Even more importantly, our system is built on the idea that health care is based on an elective system. That we, as people, can choose when we need health care and can choose not to buy health care. How illogical is this? Of course we cannot decide when we will get sick. Even more importantly, our system needs to be built on the idea that we all get sick and that we cannot determine when this will happen. It requires us to rethink how we respond to health care as a market system.
We don’t have all the answers on how this will work, but we do know some solutions that will help end the obscurity of health care costs and will reduce the hefty administrative burden caused by a needlessly complex multi-payer system. For these reason, I support John Marty’s Universal Health System for Minnesota or other single-payer plans such as Minnesota Care coverage for all or Medicare for all.
Far from creating more expenses for the tax payer, this will actually reduce health care costs by reducing the administrative burden and may even result in a reduction of the tax burden to the general public.
The system we have does not work. Let’s try a new system for a while. Right now, we have nothing to lose.