Single payer, Medicare-for-all, universal healthcare: a rose by any other name
Whatever you call it, will we ever have a national healthcare system in the United States that ensures access to adequate care and services for everyone, without anyone left out or going broke if you get sick or injured?
If you are such an optimistic person that you believe the answer is yes, or even maybe, or maybe someday, I salute you. My own hope is currently dead in the water.
I spent much of last evening with my spouse watching YouTube videos on retirement in Mexico, where it turns out they have a national, very low cost healthcare system that is open to not just their citizens but also to non-Mexican legal residents, and they are welcoming of US refugees who can't afford life or health services here, and Canadian retirees seeking warmer climate. Assisted living, long term care, dental and eye care, all available and significantly more affordable than here.
In this country, we know we will not have enough money to ever "retire" and feel like the medical system is a giant sucking leech that will inevitably wipe us out, one way or another. We're already just one major accident or illness from financial ruin, and we have more than a decade before retirement would even be on the radar. It's so anxiety-producing, we've reached the point of seriously looking at moving to Mexico. The exploration is in its infancy, so we'll see what happens.
I found the videos on the national healthcare in Mexico quite by accident, as I was searching YouTube looking for videos with information, presentations, speeches, etc. supporting the movement toward such a system here. Looking, I suppose, for hope that it might not be impossible after all. Looking for a way forward that might work. In my lifetime. Something I could get into supporting and working on. Which it should go without saying, isn't through electing democrats, regardless of their rhetoric.
Unfortunately I didn't find a lot to shore up my optimism. Which is why the evening veered into margaritas and fantasies of life in Mazatlan.
However, in the light of day today, and with years to go before any such exit plan could be implemented, I'm still looking. I'm not entirely ready to give up the fight. I keep reading how it's closer than ever now. With the ACA floundering and the republicans floundering to do anything about it, the time is ripe - so they say.
If this is true, then widespread public support and demands would have to be key components. Neither party of the duopoly will ever act on it in the absence of such demands. Whether they would act even with such demands is obviously questionable. But they surely won't without it. So to push or advocate for it, public education is key and focusing first on electing this or that politician or party is a waste of time.
Creating more and stronger public support and demand, by consistently explaining a clear vision of the goal, would be essential. Language is the only real tool we have to try to move this forward. The democrats have evidently chosen "Medicare for all" as the supposed magic words that will bring about this demand. A sure thing, slam-dunk winner. This is because a poll last year showed this term was perceived more favorably than others by more people.
I've mentioned recently my own questioning and then ultimately disagreeing with that approach. I started researching the subject. Here's a little of what I've found. I'll keep this to two links.
This is a good article that covers a lot of ground, I'll try to limit the pull quotes but it's worth a full read.
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s June tracking poll found that a majority of Americans now support getting insurance from a single government plan, indicating a slow but steady increase in support since 1998, with 53 percent now favoring a single-payer plan while 43 percent are opposed.
Still, the Kaiser poll revealed that the public’s opinions “are quite malleable,” meaning people can easily be persuaded not only by the usual arguments from doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and other sellers who fear a national health plan would mean they’d make less money.
All this calls for a new way to talk about a national health system. A Kaiser poll conducted in 2016 found that the public was more likely to react favorably to the term “Medicare for all” than to “single payer.” The latest poll showed that support was similar no matter which term was used.
Medicare for all” is also a better phrase because Medicare is a popular social program. On the other hand, what does it mean to people in their 20s or 30s? Many people on Medicare don’t even know what it means. How are 35-year-olds going to understand Medicare’s complicated inner workings and relate them to their own health-care needs? Using “Medicare for all” could still be a tough sales job.
This hits on part of why Medicare-for-all doesn't ring my bells. Heck, I'm 58, not 20 or 30, and I don't "love" Medicare, or understand it, other than to know it's inadequate enough that I'd be better off living in Mexico.
The article also hits on another key point:
It’s also behind a lot of those media stories featuring anecdotes from 60-year-old women complaining that they have to pay for maternity coverage when they will never become pregnant. The stories never mention that the 60-year-old may need eye surgery or cancer treatment. In foreign systems, there’s a lot of cross-subsidization going on, and no one I’ve ever interviewed in another country talks about their health systems in such narrow, self-interested terms as Americans do.
Getting past this attitudinal barrier is a huge problem. No magic term fixes it. And the insurance industry and their minions will use every rhetorical tool they can to fight against the turning tide. If it is turning. People are easily swayed by the opposition language, and we will need much stronger weapons to fight back than the milquetoast Medicare-for-all "slogan" the democrats are pretending to support.
Along those lines, here is the detail on that recent poll, and the wavering of public opinion:
There is a ton of interesting information and data in this summary of the polling, but beyond the initial findings that we now seem to have a small majority that support, for either term, the thing I want to emphasize here is the malleability of that support:
For example, when those who initially say they favor a single-payer or Medicare-for-all plan are asked how they would feel if they heard that such a plan would give the government too much control over health care, about four in ten (21 percent of the public overall) say they would change their mind and would now oppose the plan, pushing total opposition up to 62 percent. Similarly, when this group is told such a plan would require many Americans to pay more in taxes or that it would eliminate or replace the Affordable Care Act, total opposition increases to 60 percent and 53 percent, respectively.
Ok, just sit and look at that for a minute. One negative message and the majority no longer likes Medicare-for-all. Or single payer. Or whatever you call it. That's what we're up against. Taxes! Government takeover! And we're done. No magic words make this a slam dunk. Voting for democrats and using this slogan for sure isn't going to get us anywhere. Do not be fooled by this game plan.
I'm still leaning toward Mexico and margaritaville for my exit plan, because I feel it's simply beyond us in this country to do the right thing for our citizens. Mexico has us beat. They care about their people, and immigrants, so much more than this selfish country. My husband joked maybe Mexico will pay to build a better wall, to keep out the flood of US refugees. Ha. But so far, they are welcoming the influx and medical/dental tourism, as well as retirement homes, etc., are booming. It's currently the best idea on our list of options. Which I admit has only that one idea on it right now. Since I just finally gave up on a viable future here in the past few days, it could grow.
In the meantime I still believe in comprehensive universal healthcare for all, and will support any group or cause truly fighting for it and changing minds. For whatever it's worth.