When it comes to health care, single payer advocates (like myself) are considered to be on the fringe — the “far” left. Too often, the second you say single payer, the word “socialist” enters the conversation or the obligatory eye roll shuts down rational talk.
Yesterday I motored on down to Mankato to listen to a pitch for the Minnesota Health Plan, which is Senator John Marty’s pride and joy as well as a number of progressive legislators in both the House and Senate.
This Mankato seminar was dubbed “MNsure and Beyond: The Minnesota Health Plan.” It is an appropriate title because the MNsure exchange would not be one of the few state exchanges that actually works if it hadn’t been for health care single payer activists that wanted to make sure it worked right.
In fact, you can point to farm advocates for shepherding this project along because farmers, more than any other profession, have to deal with the individual insurance market. Paul Sobocinski and Megan Buckingham (Land Stewardship Project) presented an overview of MNsure and the complications of making a market work that still depends on the old insurance system.
The health care debate in the legislature also made some very important changes to MinnesotaCare that tried to make a smoother transition to incorporation into the ACA. First, they removed a $10,000 coverage cap (which, prior to that, had made MNCare little more than a stop gap insurance measure). Secondly, they removed the asset restrictions. This was important to farmers in getting affordable insurance.
Now, with MinnesotaCare as a viable insurance alternative for low to moderate taxable income residents, the next phase in health care is possible.
This brings us to the Minnesota Health Plan which is a viable health care coverage plan that utilizes a single payer base. This isn’t pie in the sky socialism, it simply solves a lot of basic health care problems.
1. Health Care Choice. With single payer, you don’t have to worry about in-network or out of network providers. Everybody is in.
2. Eliminates bureaucracy. It might be strange to think that a government program would actually reduce bureaucracy, but it will. Insurance and health provider networks have become an intolerable maze of coverage snafus. From network plans to tiered prescription plans to “experimental” treatment to pre-authorizations to step therapy programs, it is just plain nuts. Single payer will be one payment — one set of coverages — and one place to ask questions or to appeal.
3. Bulk purchasing. Companies that employ a lot of people can get the power of special bulk pricing. Companies that provide services will compete to get that business. That has left individual policy holders holding the bag. But not with single payer. The state is the ultimate in bulk purchasing power and everyone gets the same advantages.
4. Businesses Can Focus on Business. Too often, health care becomes a dominant part of business costs, business time, and business competitiveness. So much money and effort is wasted trying to find reasonably priced health care that the focus of really doing business can get lost. Single payer frees up business from having health care be a secondary business. Think about that as an economic benefit.
We just have to think about this in a realistic manner. We can’t continue to have 2/3rds of all bankruptcies caused by medical debt. We can’t continue with 45,000 people dying because they lack health care access. And most certainly, we cannot continue to hve 1/3 of every health care dollar wasted on administration.
Single payer isn’t a radical choice — it is the logical choice.
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