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Medicare for All: A shared benefit

Melvin B. Miller

A major issue to be debated in the 2020 election is whether the U.S. will adopt a Medicare for All system of health insurance. Now, only those 65 years of age or older are eligible. Conservatives argue that the cost of extending the coverage is too expensive, but there is also a philosophical reluctance which is even more compelling.

There is a long-standing belief in America that the individual is solely responsible for his own welfare. Whether he succeeds or fails depends entirely on one’s skills and commitment. There should be no intervention by the government in the process. Conservatives expect individuals to provide for their own health care by purchasing coverage provided by one of the corporate health insurance plans.

Sadly enough, the cost of adequate coverage is too great for many Americans, so they have little choice but to hope that their savings are not wiped out by a major illness. Little attention is given to the fact that American citizens have a vested interest in many of the medical innovations that have become extraordinary remedies but have also increased the cost of medical care. Government grants and tax-exempt contributions to hospitals, universities and scientific institutions create a financial interest for all taxpayers in the results.

It should also be noted that the highly touted U.S. private enterprise system is not providing health care efficiently. Per capita spending on health care in the U.S. in 2015 was $9,451 substantially more than $4,003 in England, $4,608 in Canada and $6,567 in Norway, which is considered to be one of the most expensive health systems in the world. What is more, the U.S. ranks 28th below other rich countries in the quality of their health system results.

Medicare for All is a primary issue for Sen. Bernie Sanders. At the very least, Americans should learn more about the problem as he campaigns.

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