Why not Medicare for all?

Single-payer would be good for business—and for health

The author is a former overseas language teacher and part-time instructor at Butte College.

Got “the blues” because Blue Cross/Aetna/Cigna just raised your rates for their profit?

You’re not alone. Small businesses and governments have been in the doldrums about health-care costs for decades. In one national survey, nearly three-quarters of small businesses said they did not offer benefits to workers because of high premiums.

As examples, community colleges have dealt with pricey health care by simply hiring more part-timers, who don’t get medical benefits. Small businesses have expressed mediocrity in other ways: High employee turnover, no new hiring, and low business growth have all been cited by small businesses as problems stemming directly from health-care costs, which have been steadily rising at four times the rate of general inflation. Soaring health-care costs have been the real job killer for private businesses, public employers and job seekers.

Since the nonprofits have been replaced by the for-profits, our last chance for jobs and opportunities in California is to pass a single-payer health-insurance bill. Single-payer would take the burden off public employers and small businesses to buy health care for their employees and free business owners to create jobs. It would make California more globally competitive.

Every other industrialized nation has either nonprofit or single-payer health-care plans, a huge competitive edge. California’s bankruptcy rate could be reduced by 62 percent immediately. Nationally, an “improved Medicare for all” system would create 2.6 million jobs and add $100 billion in wages and $317 billion in business and public revenues, according to the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy.

With a single-payer system, the Lewin Group Report predicts, California taxpayers would realize $14 billion to $20 billion in annual savings while enjoying comprehensive care equal to or better than current levels. The Affordable Care Act law has only a weak mechanism to slow for-profit health insurers from extracting ever-increasing premiums at rates far in excess of most people’s ability to pay. Reputable analysts estimate that average costs of premiums will equal or exceed average incomes of Americans by 2025.

There is no need to raise taxes to balance California’s budget gap. What we need is the only health-care system that is proven to control costs while providing every citizen with excellent health care. We need a new-health care system, not new taxes. We need an “improved Medicare for all” system. California needs SB 810—health care for all, publicly financed and privately delivered.