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Are Americans begging to keep the administrative waste of the private insurers?

August 30, 2019

Topics: Quote of the Day

By Uwe Reinhardt, Ph.D.
JAMA, June 13, 2017

We can think of the extraordinarily high overhead imposed on insured individuals and patients in the United States as the price they seem to be willing to pay for the privilege of choice among health insurers and, for each insurer, among multiple different insurance products. US consumers seem so fanatic about this choice that to keep it, they have been willing to give up their erstwhile freedom of choice among physicians, hospitals, and other clinicians and health care facilities. Citizens of most other countries have made that trade-off in exactly the opposite direction.



By Don McCanne, M.D.

Uwe Reinhardt said it well – American patients seem to be willing to pay much more to have their choice of private insurers and their plans while relinquishing their choice of physicians, hospitals, and other clinicians and facilities. Based on polls that show that support for single payer Medicare for All declines if the option to choose private plans is eliminated, it would seem that patients are willing to pay much more to keep their options for private plans open.

Many in the political and policy communities and in the media keep telling us that we want to keep this option, of course without reminding us of the consequences of wasting close to 500 billion dollars on administrative excesses. But is this what we really believe?

Look at what happened when Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) told his audience that Medicare for All works by taking away their employer-sponsored plans (24 second video, click speaker icon to turn on sound):

(Thanks to Healthcare NOW)

Wow! People are beginning to understand that eliminating private insurance is an essential beneficial feature of single payer Medicare for All, not a disadvantage. We just have to send our message back, loud and clear, to the politicians, policy community and the media, just as this audience did.

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About the Commentator, Don McCanne

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Don McCanne is a retired family practitioner who dedicated the 2nd phase of his career to speaking and writing extensively on single payer and related issues. He served as Physicians for a National Health Program president in 2002 and 2003, then as Senior Health Policy Fellow. For two decades, Don wrote "Quote of the Day", a daily health policy update which inspired HJM.

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