Medicare and Medicaid at 50

On July 30, Medicare and Medicaid will be 50 years old.

While we should celebrate this golden anniversary and be glad that over the last 50 years these programs have expanded, we should also realize that affordable access to health care in the U.S. still lags other developed nations in Europe and Asia. Even with the Affordable Care Act in place, 10 percent of us remain without insurance, and 10 percent more have inadequate insurance, or are underinsured.

Worrisome trends may put us yet farther behind other countries as for-profit insurance companies consolidate into huge monopolies and patented drug prices explode.

For many, increased premiums and cost sharing leave people “covered” by insurance but without money to actually afford care when serious illness strikes.

The solution is to have Medicare cover everyone. This was the original intent of Medicare, as was controlling costs.

The savings from negotiated drug, equipment, and medical service prices, when added to $400 billion in administrative cost savings, would be enough to expand coverage to all and include dental, vision, and hearing care. Emphasis on delivery of, and fair payment for, primary care will increase the numbers of primary care physicians.

It will be a struggle to keep the inadequate system we have; but the real solution is for us all to fight for Medicare for all.

You can see more pro and con discussion by Googling “Medicare for all.”

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