Health and financial security Medicare What's Buzzing

At 55, Medicare is going strong, at least for now

Written by Diane Archer

On July 30, Medicare turned 55. Notwithstanding myriad attempts by conservatives to destroy it, Medicare continues to withstand the test of time. Medicare offers health and financial security to more than 60 million older adults and people with disabilities. At an online conference, union representatives, small business entrepreneurs, doctors and members of Congress spoke about our need to improve and expand Medicare to everyone.

Think about it, if you have traditional Medicare, the tried and true government-administered health care plan, you can:

  • Get care from almost any doctor and any hospital in the United States.
  • Go directly to the doctor or hospital for care without any administrative hassles.
  • Know in advance that your care will be almost fully covered if you have supplemental insurance.
  • Budget for your care.
  • Sleep soundly at night knowing that you can get the care you need when you need it.

Medicare needs to be improved. It should have an out-of-pocket cap so you don’t need supplemental insurance to protect yourself financially and it should have additional benefits. But, no other insurance gives you the health security that traditional Medicare offers wherever and whenever you need care.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal spoke about how we can see even more clearly now with the coronavirus pandemic how expecting people to get private health insurance through their jobs jeopardizes their health and well-being. We not only have an economic crisis, we also a public health crisis.  The case for Medicare for all has been made by the 151,000 Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19, by the tens of thousands of people who have been charged extraordinary sums for their care, by the many Americans at risk of medical bankruptcy.

No person under 65 can go to the hospital or the doctor’s office and feel secure that their insurer will cover the full cost of their care or that their health care providers won’t bill them for services that are not covered.

Small businesses are reeling because of the private health insurance system. Instead of being able to concentrate on their businesses, small business owners are caught up in trying to ensure their employees have health care. With Medicare for all, they would be able to give their businesses the time and attention they need.

Unionized workers are losing their jobs and their health insurance.The co-president of UNITEHERE Local 11, Ada Briceno, explained that workers need the protection of guaranteed and universal health care. Improving and expanding Medicare to everyone would also allow unions to negotiate for benefits such as fair wages and retirement security instead of spending most of their energy on health care.

To end the novel coronavirus pandemic and protect everyone, we need to improve and expand Medicare to everyone. Dr. Susan Rogers, the incoming president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) explained how our current profit-driven private health insurance system unfairly discriminates against people of color and people with low incomes: “People of color are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases which leaves them more vulnerable to the coronavirus and housing in high poverty neighborhoods make social distancing near impossible.”

You can listen to the online conference here and watch it here.

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