Improved Medicare For All. Adopting a single payer system in Massachusetts is my number one priority because it’s the only solution on the table that will slow the swiftly rising costs of health care that are devouring our state budget and crippling our towns. It’s also the single most effective way to make everyone healthier, more financially secure, and free to pursue careers and relationships that had previously been held hostage by the for-profit insurance industry.
With single payer, everyone is covered, and everything is covered.
Instead of worrying about premiums, co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses, Massachusetts residents will pay absolutely nothing when they go to the doctor or the hospital. They won’t have to navigate an elaborate labyrinth of what’s covered and what’s not: All medically necessary care will be covered, including primary care, dental, vision, mental health, in-patient, rehabilitation, home health services, and prescription drugs.
It won’t matter where you work, if you’re between jobs, if you’re a college student, if you’re getting married or divorced, if you’re a dependent, or if you’re retired. If you are a resident of Massachusetts, you will be covered.
The proposed legislation in Massachusetts is based on a payroll tax, so you would only pay into the publicly-administered Health Care Trust if you were working and able to afford it. The wealthiest residents would also pay 10% on unearned income above $30,000.
Right now the complexity of our private insurance system creates a bunch of waste. If we implement a single payer system, we can use money that currently goes to pointless overhead to provide actual health care, as opposed to managing the insanity of the private insurance bureaucracy. Gerald Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, says those costs could add up to about $14 billion in administration, including from:
* The cost of administering the health insurance companies. This comes to about 12% of premium dollars, but with Medicare for All, it would be only about 2%. The difference is about $6.5 billion in Massachusetts.
* The cost of billing and insurance-related costs in provider offices. This comes to about 10% of total health care costs, and we would save almost $7 billion with a Medicare for All system.
* Employers spend almost a billion dollars for consultants and other costs related to process paper for the health insurance industry.
A single payer system will also be more transparent and simple — and most people will pay a lot less for their health care. Best of all, they’ll have the freedom to start new businesses, change jobs and choose their relationship status without worrying about how those decisions will impact their health care.
As soon as I win the Democratic primary, I will reach out to other members of the Western Massachusetts delegation to plan for a single payer caucus in the state legislature. We also clearly need more grassroots pressure coming from the eastern part of the state, and I would work with our already-engaged western Mass-based communities to make that happen.