To the Editor:
In reference to your advocacy of a federal Single Payer healthcare plan in place of the ACA, let it be conceded that on straight economics a Single Payer plan, as in Canada, the UK and almost all of the developed world, would be far less costly.
But, alas, “Politics is the art of the possible.” Steven Brill in his study of our healthcare system America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals and the Fight to Fit Our Broken Healthcare System notes that health insurance companies employ some 1.5-million workers, about one-sixth of our total workforce. Single Payer by destroying their employers would render them jobless overnight.
Again, hundreds of thousands (perhaps, indeed, millions) own stock in such insurers as Aetna, United Healthcare and the like in their pension plans and IRAs. Single Payer would render those stocks virtually worthless, threatening retirements, shoving many into straitened old age.
The healthcare insurance industry will not go quietly. President Obama, as you note, originally favored Single Payer, but as he and his advisers faced the foregoing facts he reluctantly turned to the jerry-built structure that is the ACA. Something, he concluded, was better than the nothing that Hillarycare ended up as in the mid-1990s.
Good intentions are not enough. That is why the current realism of former Sen. Clinton will prevail over the “blue sky” dreams of Sen. Sanders, on this issue as on so many others.
Sincerely yours, Winthrop Drake Thies
Dear Mr. Thies,
Back in the day, we couldn’t protect our steel industry from going overseas, followed by much of our manufacturing and more recently much of our tech work—including the “good jobs” like the one I had at IBM that was sent to India in 2002. We couldn’t/didn’t protect any of those, but we are going to draw the line at protecting the health insurance jobs? Jobs in which the bulk of the work seems to consist of inefficient paperwork and searching for reasons to deny care to people in need.
You argue we can’t afford to lose those jobs, but can you guarantee that the insurance companies won’t outsource those jobs to India or Vietnam or wherever the current hot spot for outsourcing happens to be? I’d be surprised if some companies aren’t already doing so. And if you could guarantee that these jobs won’t move (perhaps through legislation) then there should be a way to protect or even rebuild other industries—ones that also trade on the stock market but don’t involve taking Grandma’s meds away from her because her payment was two days late (a little hyperbolic, but you get my drift.)
We’ve had banks too big to fail and now you are proposing paper-pushers too big to change.
Mr. Thies’s letter is in response to the February 2016 article “Single Payer 101.” The original article can be found online at: http://westviewnews.org/2016/02/single-payer-101/ More debate about the feasibility of Single Payer can be found on page 15.