Why on earth should health care be affordable? | Herald Community Newspapers

By Matthew Adarichev

As election season heats up, we are once again hearing the same worn-out message repeated by Democrats hoping to get elected. As you know, “I support access to affordable, quality health care. But no one ever wonders why health care should be like this.
‘Cause from what I can see, health care should not just be affordable. It should be free.
In rare circumstances, such as in rural areas of the country, access to health care is truly difficult. There are situations where there is a real shortage of doctors and this must be remedied. But for the vast majority of Americans, the real obstacle to health care is its prohibitive cost.
You have “access” to healthcare in the same way that you have “access” to a Lamborghini. What’s stopping you? Go get one! Obviously, the problem is not supply; the cars are there. It’s the fact that for most Americans, it’s way too expensive.
The difference is that you can live without Lambo, but you can’t live without health care.

When was the idea that we had to pay for necessary medical procedures accepted? It’s as barbaric as demanding payment for breathing air. And the concept of affordability is completely subjective. A million-dollar procedure is affordable for a billionaire, but for those living in poverty, shelling out a few thousand dollars a year — or even a few hundred — for stripped-down private insurance is expensive.

I’m not saying that our good, hard-working doctors work for free. Instead, we should provide everyone in the country with universal health care through a single-payer program. Everyone would contribute into a pool, and the government would use that money to pay doctors for treatment.

The list of potential benefits is long. If you lost your job, you would not lose your health insurance. Small businesses would not have to bear the huge cost of employee health care. Unions would no longer have to negotiate health care benefits; 100% coverage would eventually be achieved; and we would no longer lose 45,000 Americans a year to lack of health insurance.

The program would also save us money. A Yale University study estimated that a single-payer system would save us $450 billion a year. Another study, from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, put the single-payer price at just under $3 trillion, compared to the $4.1 trillion the American Medical Association estimated we spent on healthcare in 2020, which means single payer could save us $22. trillion over 20 years.

Of course, we are concerned about the increase in taxes. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind paying higher taxes if it meant my fellow Americans would get the care they needed. But call it what you want. You already pay “taxes” to private insurance companies in the form of premiums, co-payments and deductibles. And when expensive emergency services are used for preventable health issues, you foot the bill.

Contrary to popular opinion, government programs are extremely effective. Social Security spends less than 1% of its budget on administration and Medicare 2%, compared to a low estimate of 17% among private insurers, who spend much of your “taxes” on profits and marketing rather than health care.

A final concern is, “Will I lose my existing health insurance?” No. It’s a precarious time in America right now, but no one would be deprived of coverage. Your current health insurance would be phased into the new plan over several years, during which time you would still be able to access services.

The way forward is clear: we need to move to a single-payer system in the United States. It will save money, lives, nerves and a lot of paperwork. Fortunately, we don’t need to go it alone. We can look to our Pacific ally, Taiwan, which already has an exceptional single-payer system. Taiwan has a higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality rate and lower maternal mortality rate – all for less than what we spend in the United States

If you want to reform our brutal health care system, find and call your state senator at There is legislation that was passed by the Assembly called the New York Health Act that would enact a single payer in New York State. Also contact your U.S. Representative or call Senator Chuck Schumer at (202) 224-6542 or Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at (202) 224-4451. Remind them that single payer is a policy supported by a majority of Americans.

Health care policy should not aim to provide “access to affordable, quality health care”. It should be about providing quality health care, period.

Matthew Adarichev is a public policy scholar at Hofstra University, political activist and aspiring journalist whose work has appeared in the Hofstra Chronicle and Anton Media Group.

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