Monday, February 17, 2020

Medicare For All: Common Arguments Against And Rebuttals

ReBUTTals. Heheh.

The headline was really formal so I had to balance it out. You understand.

Anyway, it's looking like in spite of the DNC's best efforts, Bernie Sanders is likely to be the nominee for President. If we want to get Trump out of office four years early, which will be the real challenge because the incumbent always has the advantage, we need to be ready to counter all the shit that's going to be lobbed at Bernie and his policy positions.

Let's start with Medicare for All, because Jon Oliver did a segment on it and it really lays out the most common concerns with it in a fair and hilarious manner.

I like this show a lot.

The biggest argument against seems to be the cost, and I want to point out a couple things that Oliver didn't. First of all, Fox News anchors love to put that special bit of emphasis on TRILLION when they give the price tag. Let's be clear -- the U.S. annual budget is already measured in the trillions. I know it still seems like an uncommonly large number, but the same used to be for billions. Inflation has raised us to the point that you're going to start hearing the word "trillion" more and more often. Don't let it scare you away from actually using your brain.

Second, U.S. healthcare as it is already costs $3.5 trillion every year. Pundits always talk about the cost over the course of 10 years, so if you use basic maths, $32.6 trillion over 10 years means saving $240 billion even by Fox News numbers.

Of course, Oliver makes a good point in saying that we don't know for sure how Medicare for All will really cost until we get the bill. I would argue that it's worth a shot seeing as Medicare for All will save lives and I will pay higher taxes to do that even if those taxes would cost me more than what the elimination of health insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles would save me.

Also of interest is a new study that came out just last Friday. I was already high as a kite by the time I saw it but I was so excited about it that I still managed to email one of the lead study authors for the full text of said study because you can do that instead of paying to get past the paywall and it works 99% of the time, just FYI.

I haven't had time to read through the entire thing yet, but I did convert it into a Google Doc which you can access here because FUCK paywalls for scientific studies. Thank you, Dr. Alison Galvani.

The paper was authored by five experts from three different universities and declares that Dr. Galvani "was an informal unpaid adviser to the Office of Senator Sanders regarding the Medicare for All Act, 2019," with no other possible conflicts of interest listed. The summary lists some highly promising potential results.

Taking into account both the costs of coverage expansion and the savings that would be achieved through the Medicare for All Act, we calculate that a single-payer, universal health-care system is likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure, equivalent to more than US$450 billion annually (based on the value of the US$ in 2017).

That's some serious annual savings, but let's talk about human lives.

Furthermore, we estimate that ensuring health-care access for all Americans would save more than 68 000 lives and 1·73 million life-years every year compared with the status quo.

That. Is what I am talking about.

The only other common argument that Jon Oliver doesn't address is the idea that the government will be making health decisions for people. This is, I'm assuming, a remnant of the "death panels" bullshit from the Obamacare debates.

The bottom line is that if you want to keep costs down (and I'm not saying I do lol), then somebody does need to be out there to say "no, we're not going to pay for your third face lift" or "no, we're not going to pay for you to get a sixth finger grafted onto your left hand because you think it would be cool," or whatever. Right now, we have health insurance companies with a clear profit motive to deny you as much coverage as they can for whatever reason they can pull out of their asses and people are dying on the regular as a direct result of this system.

Hypothetically, we could have a system wherein a government worker who does not get paid bonuses for saying "no" could make some kind of final call on controversial cases based on doctor recommendations or however they do it in every other country where they have this system. That doesn't seem so bad.

I get not trusting our government. I sure as hell don't. But at least governments are SUPPOSED to be for and by the people. A properly-funded system done right could save tens of thousands of lives and make life so much better for so many people, reducing so much of the stress that takes god knows how many years off our lives. Yeah, government corruption happens, but at least it's illegal. At least it's considered to be wrong.

For-profit companies are, as described, FOR PROFIT. That's all. All they care about is sucking as much profit out of YOUR pocket as possible, and they don't give a single fuck if that means you DIE, and that's how it's supposed to be. Which do you prefer to make your health care decisions?

Oh, and there's also the assumption that because the U.S. has a higher population than most countries with universal healthcare, the presumed added bureaucracy would create additional problems. While that might be true, I feel like the potential to save tens of thousands of LIVES every year makes Medicare for All worth a shot. Like yeah, obviously problems are going to crop up here and there. Maybe we can work on those as they appear? We can do it.

I honestly don't understand the instinct to dismiss a system which could save so many lives just because it might have some issues that will make it worse less than absolutely perfect. My hope is that most of the people doing this just haven't thought it through and are still stuck in the reactionary "SOCIALISM BAD" mode courtesy of propaganda from the government they don't trust.

Please, people. Lives are at stake. Try to exercise some critical thinking on this issue.

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