One year after health insurance markets were opened to the public, Politico asked “some of the country's smartest health-care thinkers” what Obamacare hasn't fixed in the American health care system and what we can do now. Sen. Bernie Sanders shared his idea for a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.
“The Affordable Care Act has made modest improvements in American health care since it took effect. Twenty million Americans have gained insurance under the law, including young people who can stay on their parents' policies and others who may no longer be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions. The law also has expanded access to primary care to some 4 million more Americans through community health centers that also provide dental care, low-cost prescription drugs and mental health counseling.
“But the United States remains, shamefully, the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee health care to all its people as a right. And because of the profiteering of the pharmaceutical industry and private insurance companies, the United States spends almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation, while our life expectancy, infant mortality and preventable deaths are higher than most other countries. If our goal is to provide high-quality health care for all Americans in a cost-effective way, we must move toward a single-payer system.
“The health insurance lobby and other opponents of single-payer care make it sound scary. It's not. In fact, a large, single-payer system already exists in the United States: It's called Medicare. People enrolled in the system give it high marks. More importantly, it has succeeded in providing near-universal coverage to Americans over age 65.
“I am very proud that my home state of Vermont is now moving forward on a plan to establish a single-payer health care system to provide coverage for every man, woman and child in our state. I believe we can be a model for the rest of the country. A single-payer system guaranteeing health care for all will not only be a source of great security to the American people; it will also be good for our economy. Entrepreneurs and small businesses will be free to develop their business plans without worrying about the cost and complexity of providing health care for themselves and their employees. Millions of Americans won't have to stay in jobs they don't like because their family needs health care.
“The goal of real health-care reform must be high-quality, universal coverage in a cost-effective way--with an emphasis on disease prevention. We must ensure, to as great a degree as possible, that the money we put into health coverage goes to the delivery of health care, not to paper-pushing, astronomical profits and lining CEOs' pockets.”