Republican and Democratic Plans for Medicare and Medicaid Misguided: Push for Privatization Will Accelerate Costs and Deaths

Privatization of health care is a failed experiment in the United States.

The United States differs from other nations in allowing investor-owned corporations to profit at the expense of human suffering and lives. After decades of experience with this unique privatized model of financing health care, the results are clear and startling.

The United States has the highest per capita health care costs, the highest prices for medical goods and services (and lower overall usage rates) and no control over health care spending. Despite attempts to patch the current health care situation, the number of uninsured and those with skimpy health insurance that leaves them unable to afford health care or at risk of medical bankruptcy continues to grow. Suffering and preventable deaths are higher in the U.S. than in other industrialized nations.

In addition, there have been no significant gains in important measures of health such as life expectancy and infant and maternal mortality rates. Our health disparities continue to grow, especially for those who have chronic conditions. And our health care workforce continues to be inadequate as health professionals quickly burn out from trying to practice in our complex and irrational health care environment.

It is time to recognize the failure of the market model of paying for health care and embrace comprehensive and effective health reform. The model for our ‘uniquely American’ solution lies in traditional Medicare, a single payer health system for those who are 65 years of age and over. Since its inception 45 years ago, Medicare has lifted seniors out of poverty and improved their health status.

Dr. Margaret Flowers | CommonDreams.org