It no doubt bothers conservatives such as libertarians and Republicans in particular that U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders' proposal for a "Medicare-for-All" bill, which would expand the federal/state insurance benefit to all Americans nationwide, has attracted support from no fewer than 12 additional U.S. Senators as well as some Representatives in the U.S. House.
I'm a conservative and guess what? I support Medicare-for-All. I'm simply not convinced that a program that most of the world uses to care for its people couldn't work just as well in the United States. I find it interesting that, in all the world, there is no nation purporting to deliver health care through the so-called free market. I suggest that the reason for that is that health care is one of those industries that the free market is simply ill-equipped to handle. To those who disagree, I invite you to show me one nation—any single nation—in which health care is delivered by way of a free market. The reason you can't find one is because health care is a free market failure. That is why every nation on the planet handles health care delivery by the single payer system in one form or another.
To those of you who remain unconvinced, you'll probably point out, "Hold on, the U.S. is a free market, and we do health care just fine." Except that we're not, and we don't. We don't have a free market because special interests, which I'll delve into in a bit, have bought off legislators into making laws that give preferential treatment to those interests. So, as they do business, it costs ordinary people more than necessary and inflates their profits. A free market would drive down prices through competition. The special interests hate competition. So to the doubters: I'm more than certain that the status quo—leaving health care to the insurers and for-profit health care providers is not working.
For too long in conservative circles, we have bought the lie that the insurance industry could fix the problems inherent in health care and make it affordable for everyone, but we know now it's a lie. Many of us have come around to the truth: that too many U.S. Senators and House Reps, not to mention legislators in state capitals across the nation, are corrupt, having been bought and paid for by insurers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the American Medical Association, so that there can be no truly free market in health care.
Those legislators seem to have no problem funding the boondoggle F-35 fighter jet program, which has already cost the taxpayers $406 billion (although the total commitment is more than $1.5 trillion through 2070). And Congress just approved $80 billion in additional military spending last week, for a total $700 billion defense bill. Yet that same body can never seem to come up with enough cash to take care of the ordinary average American with disabilities or pre-existing conditions, or those veterans who return from their service broken or mangled or worse for wear from their experience. Trump campaigned on the promise he would fight to protect Americans first. But which Americans? Will he continue to subsidize the wealthy 1%, the corporations, the lobbyists he promised to drain from Washington's "swamp?" Or will he fight for the ordinary Americans who live, work, raise children, and die here?
We can do better; we know Medicare works for the 55.5 million of us who benefit from it now. We know it's efficient, so we know that expanding it will serve all 323.1 million Americans well. It's time to stop calling it welfare and start talking about prioritizing tax spending on things Americans really want. More and more Americans are saying it's time to prioritize our citizens ahead of endless war and empire building abroad.
So what are we talking about investing in health care? Well, in 2015 the U.S. led the world in health care spending at $9,451 per person. And we don't have to maintain that level; remember, a lot of that money gets funneled to insurers, Big Pharma, and the AMA monopoly. Under a single payer system, no more profits will go to build deluxe marble hospital wings and endow universities with MBA programs and buildings bearing insurance company logos, and no more athletic arenas named after erectile dysfunction drugs. Imagine a health care system that actually cares for people without the profit motive!
If you agree and you think it's time your U.S. Senators and U.S. House Reps admit the free market cannot handle health care, and that the single payer, universal route is the best option, you need to contact them and let them know. Share this article with them if you think it will help get your point across.
Dom De Bellis is an entrepreneur, author, public speaker, coach, and minister of the Gospel. When he's not serving his church or Boy Scout Troop, he is helping people in cities grow organic food.