As Americans are being hoodwinked by a slick health insurance industry PR campaign, the time has come to carefully examine Medicare For All by separating myth from reality.
While morally repugnant, the privately-owned health insurance industry's deceptions are economically understandable. By the time Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019 in the U.S. Senate --- two months after Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, introduced H.R. 1384 - Medicare for All Act of 2019 in the House --- the industry realized that it faced an existential threat.
Medicare for All would create an entirely new single-payer healthcare system that, with limited exceptions (cosmetic surgery, home care nursing), would eliminate the need for anyone to purchase health insurance.
While the parasitic health insurance industry has faced-off against them in the past, single-payer advocates are better positioned to prevail in 2020 than at any time in the past 75 years. Sanders' single-payer healthcare legislation, S. 1129, was co-sponsored by 14 Senate Democrats. Those co-sponsors included several Presidential candidates --- Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamela Harris (D-CA). More than one-half of all Democrats in the House (112), co-sponsored Jayapal's version of the bill. Medicare for All is also supported by 63 national organizations. More importantly, a poll taken in 2018 --- prior to a barrage of pro-insurance industry propaganda --- found that Medicare for All was immensely popular. It was supported by a whopping 70% of all Americans, including 84% of Democrats and a mind-boggling 52% of Republicans.
With their very survival at stake, the health insurance profiteers, along with large hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry, created a new PR front-group, Partnership for America's Healthcare Future (PAHF), to wage their defensive. According to Wendell Potter, a former CIGNA executive and author of Deadly Spin: How PR is Killing Healthcare and Deceiving Americans (2011), PAHF is the industry's newest propaganda arm.
In addition to carefully-timed commercial advertising, PAHF acts in concert with industry-funded politicians and mainstream media pundits. Their goal is to erect an industry-friendly frame that serves to mask the blatant deficiencies of our inordinately expensive, yet woefully inefficient, subsidized "free market" healthcare system. This, as Julie Hollar of the media watchdog FAIR observed, has succeeded in turning some of the recent Democratic Presidential Debates into "over the top, industry-friendly spectacle[s]."
Potter, the recovering healthcare industry veteran, told Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzek: "Health insurers have been successful at two things: making money and getting the American public to believe they're essential." But, "the truth", argues Hiltzik, "is that private health insurers have contributed nothing to the American healthcare system."
Most Americans, he charges, "blindly tolerate" our inordinately expensive, yet dysfunctional private insurance system "because the vast majority...don't have a complex interaction with the healthcare system within a given year...[One percent] of patients account for more than one-fifth of all medical spending, and 10% account for two-thirds." Far too many Americans fail to appreciate the "inadequacies of our private insurance system" until those inadequacies are thrust upon them by an unexpected serious illness or injury, according to the Pulitzer Prize winning business columnist.
Hence, the need to separate healthcare insurance myth from fact-based reality...