Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cost Containment Is Inherent in Single-Payer

At Counterpunch, David Lindorff makes a persuasive argument for the inherent cost savings of a Medicare-for-all plan:

"Medicaid, the program that pays for medical care for the poor, and is funded by federal and state taxes, would be eliminated, saving $400 billion a year. 
Veterans’ care, currently running at $100 billion a year, would be eliminated.

Perhaps two-thirds of the $300 billion a year spent by federal, state and local governments to reimburse hospitals for so-called “charity care” for treatment of people who have no insurance but don’t qualify for Medicaid, would be eliminated.

Individuals and employers would no longer have to pay for private insurance.

Several hundred billion dollars currently spent on paperwork by private insurers would be eliminated.

Car insurance would be cheaper as there would no longer have to be coverage for medical bills.

Federal, state and local governments would no longer have to pay to insure public employees.

In short, if every person were on Medicare, the overall savings would overwhelm the small increase in the Medicare payroll tax of 5.8%."

I would add that federal incentives to make going into primary care more attractive than specialties, and requiring service in under-served areas in exchange for those incentives, might go a long way to  keeping costs down, as well as injecting a much-needed correction into the expanding gentrification of our health care continuum.

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