Pandemic has laid bare the defects of our employment-based insurance coverage

To the Editor:

I have been a member of Physicians for a National Health Plan for many years. This is an organization of medical professionals who advocate for a single-payer insurance plan for all citizens of this great country of ours.

The interest groups who oppose us (mainly insurance companies) mislead the public by calling this “government-run medical care.” That is not the case.

As all of us over 65 who have Medicare know, this is simply affordable insurance for all. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics are reimbursed but not employed by the government. When you qualify for Medicare, you can still see your own private doctor.

One reason I retired earlier than I had planned was that the red tape involved in dealing with a myriad of insurance companies is expensive and frustrating. An extra staff person in a doctor’s office is required whose only function is dealing with all the different byzantine rules and regulations of the competing insurance companies.

Sadly, in the pandemic, the defects of our employment-based insurance coverage have been laid bare. We have a system that is totally fragmented so that the coordinated effort of allocating resources and compiling data is paralyzingly complex.

Recently I heard two emergency-room doctors associated with Doctors without Borders speak about their experiences of both Ebola and COVID-19. One of them was working in London and the other in New York City. Because Britain has a National Health Service coordinating everything, the doctor there was noticeably more relaxed and confident than the frazzled, overwhelmed physician in New York.

Employment-based insurance obviously cannot work properly under the present circumstances when millions are being laid off and losing their coverage just when they need it most. In addition, it does not work for the mentally ill, who are unable to hold down jobs and often end up on the street or in jail, two situations that are breeding grounds for contagion.

I hope Americans will follow the example of the countries of Europe and Canada and demand affordable and universal health-insurance coverage.

Margaret M. Craven, M.D.

New Scotland

danielafilmer's picture
Joined: 01/17/2020 - 10:19
Couldn't agree more

This letter is brilliant and I could not agree more. Truer words never spoken. Hoping there's a chance that single-payer will happen, as it seems the health care system is about to implode.

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