I thought that is what insurance was for?   

Last week I finally reached a resolution on a health insurance issue that I have been working on since March… of 2023.  That’s right a whole year.  The disagreement was over about $1,000 that I thought that they owed me, and they seemed to feel differently.  I spent hours on the phone,  filled out forms, and emailed copies of things that I know that they already had copies of.  I even reached out to the state insurance ombudsman.  Did you know that such a thing exists?  It’s a free service from the state insurance board where they will intervene on your behalf to try to get your questions answered. 

In the end, my persistence paid off.  I finally received a check for the amount I feel that I was owed.  However, I find myself wondering how many other people are treated unfairly by their insurance companies and just let it go?  Maybe they don’t have the time or the energy to argue. Maybe they don’t even know that they are being treated unfairly. Maybe they don’t even know what their rights are. 

I have often joked that insurance is a game of 1,2,3 not it and the insurance company gets a 5 minute head start.  These challenges are unique to the United States.  Nearly every other industrialized nation has realized that healthcare is critical and should not be profit motivated. It should not be only available to the very wealthy.  Now I am sure every health system has its challenges, but it seems that in our country the biggest barrier to quality healthcare is nothing more than the socioeconomic status of the patient. 

I have heard it said that single-payer healthcare would never work in this country. It would cost too much.  However, when you look at our healthcare costs as a percentage of GDP we are far higher than anywhere else in the world. Honestly, can we afford NOT to make some changes?  At least 17 other industrialized countries have figured it out. Surely we are at least as smart as they are?

The closest thing that we have in the US to single-payer healthcare is Medicare.  And for decades it has worked fairly well in spite of GOP efforts to make it less effective.  For years Medicare, the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in our country, was prohibited from negotiating prices.  You guessed it, whatever Big Pharma decided to charge, the US Taxpayer had to pay it.  Never mind the prices are 35% or so higher than anywhere else in the world. That’s kind of a hard pill to swallow (pun intended).  Democrats fixed that and taxpayers will soon start to see those costs come down. 

In reality the biggest reason that the GOP does not want single-payer healthcare is that they are in the pocket of Big Pharma.  If Republican leaders have their way Medicare will be slashed and privatized.  Once that happens, our most vulnerable will be left to navigate the for-profit mess that just took me a year to resolve.  They deserve better. We all deserve better.

David Roth is a former education administrator and nonprofit professional. He is a PCO for the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.