To the Editor:
Progressives call for changing the American health insurance system into something called “Medicare for All.” Be careful what you wish for. Based on the experiences my wife and I have had with Medicare, just within our first couple of years, I’m unimpressed.
Medicare’s enrollment and customer service functions are government-run. But they contract with outside companies for claim processing. You cannot speak with representatives of the company that processed the claim. We had customer service nightmares in getting some claim errors corrected through Medicare representatives.
Medicare’s claim notifications also are abysmal. Private health insurers give better service. Medicare pays a much lower portion of a bill than any private insurer does. Providers currently stay in business by having both Medicare and non-Medicare patients.
If everyone had Medicare, it would be difficult financially for hospitals to remain open. And a severe doctor shortage would develop, since they would be paid less than it costs them to treat patients.
If anyone wants a single-payer system, just call it that and leave Medicare out of it. To hear progressives talk, single payer is heavenly. But the goal should be universal health care coverage, not the specific method in reaching that goal.
Progressives point to Europe as supposedly having superior systems. Interestingly, the two European nations with the best health outcomes – Switzerland and the Netherlands – do not use single-payer systems. Each of them has a variety of health insurers, much like the U.S., and each government requires that everyone sign up for some form of insurance.
The Swiss and Dutch systems resemble the American system under the flawed Affordable Care Act – except better. They properly enforce their mandates and also subsidize coverage so that it is in fact affordable, unlike our system.
The moderate approach is to seek a public/private partnership, not entirely government-run. Use American ingenuity to build something like what the ACA could have been like had it been done right, instead of the monstrous law that it was. It’s far better to maintain a robust free enterprise system with minimal government oversight to ensure reasonable efficiency and consistency.