“Ultimately, we all end up paying for others’ healthcare whether we say it explicitly or not. This is the price we pay to avoid having Americans die daily of emergent conditions and congenital diseases.”
– Keanan McGonigle
To paraphrase our commander-in-chief, healthcare is complicated. There are serious trade-offs to be made about short-term savings versus long-term costs; about who should get covered and how; about who should pay for it all.
Health is not like other markets; it takes patient, long-term investment to keep people healthy. One thing is clear though — as U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy pointed out in his recent op-ed — ultimately, we all end up paying for others’ healthcare whether we say it explicitly or not. This is the price we pay to avoid having Americans die daily of emergent conditions and congenital diseases.
Once we accept this fact, the question becomes how to most efficiently administer care in a way that reduces costs for all of us. The Affordable Care Act said “we leave it to insurers to decide how much to charge so that most everyone is covered”; we ended up with a lot of discontent.
The Republican response will reduce the number of people covered — but we know we’ll end up paying for them anyway, just in a more roundabout way.
The president is a self-purported master of negotiation. But currently providers are at a huge disadvantage in negotiating with drug and device manufacturers: the latter groups have government-sanctioned monopolies. Sicker people are on uneven footing with insurers, through no fault of their own. This leaves huge segments of the population without coverage.
The solution to both these problems is simple: single-payer. The appeal of a single-payer healthcare system is its simplicity and inclusivity. When one entity negotiates prices with all the groups that keep healthcare so expensive, costs go down. And nobody gets left out. Single payer fulfills the president’s pledge to take care of everyone at lower costs. Now Congress should act on it.
Keanan McGonigle is a medical student in New Orleans.