Opponents of Single Payer Think You’re Stupid… But Nothing is Dumber Than a For-Profit Healthcare System

Opponents of Single Payer Think You’re Stupid… But Nothing is Dumber Than a For-Profit Healthcare System
March 31, 2017, protest at Shaw and Blackstone in Fresno. Photo by Howard Watkins.

By Pat LaMarche

Editor’s note: This article was originally published under a Creative Commons Attribution License: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/05/24/opponents-single-payer-think-youre-stupid-nothing-dumber-profit-healthcare-system.

Lack of critical thinking: it’s killing us. And if you get alarmed by the headline of a May 22 Sacramento Bee article, it will continue killing us.

One of the few reasonable opinions President Trump expressed recently—in the face of stark ridicule—is that healthcare reform shouldn’t be that difficult. “Nobody knew,” he quipped.

I like boiling the healthcare discussion down to a few words—four in fact—live longer, pay less. When looked at with those four words in mind, the answer changes.

Nobody knew? Well, some folks do.

Just look at whom lives longer and pays less. Why the Canadians, the Brits, the French, the Dutch, the Japanese, the Swiss, the Danes, the Italians, the South Koreans, the Israelis…They knew.

I could go on and on, but I don’t need to. ’Cause if you’re still reading this and you favor our system of paying more and dying sooner—well forgive me—but perhaps you’re just too stupid to live.

And if the U.S. healthcare system only caused the untimely and early demise of stupid people—like Paul Ryan—who prefer a profit-drenched system, then it might be OK. But you and I pay for Speaker Ryan to have some of the best health insurance in the country, so no, it’s not working out that way.

Back to the article in the Sacramento Bee, and I’m not blaming the reporter because her editor likely wrote the headline, which reads, “The price tag on universal health care is in, and it’s bigger than California’s budget,” and while technically true, it’s still less than the price tag on our current system. And in the case of California’s newly proposed universal healthcare plan, everyone is covered.

“The price tag on universal health care is in, and it’s bigger than California’s budget” is like saying the price of a family’s new car is in and it’s more than the grocery budget. It’s just erroneous math compounded with irrelevance.

Using their comparison, the newspaper infers an outrageous price for universal healthcare but doesn’t adequately mention the savings from scrapping the current for-profit insurance system. When you read the article written by Angela Hart, you see that she did look into savings. She even accounted for $100 billion–$150 billion that employers pay in right now. Her article is far more scholarly than the scare-tactic headline implies. But she says the accounting still falls $50 billion short overall. That’s because there’s no mention of out-of-pocket cash payments (or those foisted onto overburdened credit cards) that also go to pay for our current for-profit system.

So, let’s do this differently.

Right now, Hart’s article says that the cost of California’s proposed single payer system would be $400 billion. But using statistical information released in 2016, the United States spends on average $10,345 per person for healthcare, and that’s counting the people who don’t even get it. California had as of 2015 approximately 39.14 million people. The total cost for the current system is $404.9 billion. That’s nearly $5 billion more that Californians pay to—you guessed it—die sooner.

That $5 billion could be better spent teaching headline writers logic and math.


Pat LaMarche is host of The Pulse Morning Show, which broadcasts in Maine and is available at zoneradio.com. She is the author of Left Out in America: The State of Homelessness in the United States. She was the Green Party’s vice presidential candidate in 2004. Contact her at PatLaMarche@hotmail.com.


  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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