I have never had to argue with Medicare for a service I have recommended, but I duke it out regularly with private insurers: for refusing skilled rehabilitation, a special drug, or treatments. I have only one complaint with Medicare — they don’t negotiate drug or device prices, which would lower costs for us taxpayers. But they will. And, if we want the best bang for our insurance buck, it’s just as inevitable we’ll (eventually) hire government to manage health care. A few facts:
• Insurance costs continue to rise. Despite having insurance, 20 to 70 percent of Americans are unable to pay medical bills, or cut back on food and basic needs to do so, or forego needed care/medication.
• Private insurance bureaucracy costs more than public — 12 percent versus 2 percent.
• Eliminating multiple insurers cuts hospital and physician administrative costs in half.
• Independent organizations forecast Medicare-for-all can insure all Americans at lower cost than what we spend now.
• Healthcare costs (private plus public) gobble 18 percent of our domestic spending, and continue to rise.
• Most citizens and doctors favor providing basic care for all.
• Patient satisfaction with single-payer plans (Medicare, Veterans, Medicaid) is higher than with private insurance.
RELATED: Governor pitches healthcare views to national audience.
As for my opinion, fiscal responsibility suggests we tame expenses, starting with the bloated private insurance bureaucracy and profit, every dollar of which subtracts a dollar from patient service. We can do this while improving care, providing service to all, and restoring the freedom to choose our providers that private insurance networks now deny us.
I went into medicine to help people. I am in favor of policies that improve patient care, even more if they also reduce cost and paperwork. Congress is holding hearings on healthcare. If you believe, as I do, that facts matter more than politics, there is no better time to let your representatives know that you’re watching. And if you don’t think facts matter, I’ll still be there to take care of you, because I believe that’s everyone’s right.
Dr. Mary Jo Groves is a hospitalist at Springfield Regional Medical Center.