(High School Insider)

Opinion: Americans need Medicare for All

America was in a healthcare crisis before the pandemic with 87 million people uninsured or underinsured, causing 30,000 people to die as a direct causation from lack of medical care, according to The Guardian. Now, as COVID-19 has forced so much of the American economy to shut down, in a country where we tie health insurance to employment, 26 million Americans losing their jobs in this pandemic translates to up to 35 million Americans estimated to see their healthcare coverage disappear, according to The Guardian.

Even Americans who retain their health insurance could see premiums go up by 40%. The failing American healthcare system is being exacerbated by this pandemic. When we should see more Americans gaining access to healthcare when more would naturally need it, the exact opposite is happening. 

In the midst of our health crisis, President Trump is taking the opportunity to stack the courts against the Affordable Care Act.

Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination will mean a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court that hears a challenge to the Affordable Care Act on November 10.

With Barrett’s record of agreeing with past challenges to the Affordable Care Act, particularly Scalia’s reasoning, it is highly likely she will tip the court against it. If the ACA is overturned, this could mean 133 million Americans could be disqualified from their health insurance due to pre-existing conditions, 21 million people would lose their health insurance, 12 million adults could lose Medicaid, 60 million people on Medicare could see higher premiums, and 2 million young people would lose coverage through their parents’ plans, according to the New York Times

2020 is a year where Americans are facing simultaneous threats to their health and their healthcare. Now more than ever, the US needs Medicare for All. 

Medicare for All guarantees quality health insurance to every American, alleviating so much of the pain of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic is an existential issue that can only be solved if we work together, and our contraction of the disease has an impact on everyone around us. Our health depends on the health of every other American. Even if we are only acting in our interest, universal healthcare benefits all of us. Moreover, for many patients, COVID-19 can have long-term impacts, causing more people to need continuous access to care even after the pandemic.

Immediate but particularly preventative care is an integral to saving thousands of lives. Empirically, universal access to healthcare saves at least 68,500 lives that would otherwise die unnecessarily. Drug prices would go down and more people would have access to life-saving pharmaceuticals, like insulin, because of the ability of the government to negotiate prices on peoples’ behalves. The market would have much less power, and the government would be incentivized by welfare rather than profit. Guaranteeing health insurance to every American saves thousands of lives by expanding access to preventative care and necessary pharmaceuticals. 

More than that, our economy needs help and the average American needs economic relief in some form. Medicare for All actually delivers this. The current healthcare system is insanely expensive because of all of the administrative fees. That’s why when you compare our medical system to Britain’s socialized system, the average American spends $10,500 and the average British citizen pays $4,000, while Americans still have higher infant mortality and lower life expectancies.

Under Medicare for All, the average American family would save $2,400 annually, as found in a study conducted by researchers at Yale University, the University of Florida and the University of Maryland, according to Newsweek.

The Mercatus Center found that a single-payer Medicare for All system would accumulate about $2 trillion in net savings over 10 years.

Even if taxes are raised to fund Medicare For All, insurance premiums are the most regressive tax possible on working class Americans. Health insurance premiums are the ultimate reason that American’s healthcare system is broken. In fact, 8 million people would not be poor if they didn’t have to pay out of pocket medical expenses, according to the 2018 Census summary report.

Our current healthcare system is driving people into poverty with no benefits for anyone but the wealthiest people in this country. A Medicare For All system solves for this by eliminating premiums and out of pocket expenses. 

The idea of passing Medicare for All right now is a pipe dream. We are in such a divisive time, and Medicare for All is easy to reject because it carries the label of socialism. In an ideal world, where policy was put above party, Medicare for All would save lives and economically relieve so many Americans that are facing both the health and economic ramifications of this pandemic.