Doctor Advocates for Single-Payer Healthcare

The following summarizes a statement by Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professor of public health at the City University of New York and visiting professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is co-founder ofPhysicians for a National Health Program.

The slight drop in this year’s total number of uninsured to 48.6 million from a record 50 million last year was largely attributable to an increase in government health insurance coverage, particularly those covered by Medicaid and Medicare. The latest Census Bureau figure, 48.6 million uninsured, conjures up a very grim picture: a preventable death every 11 minutes.

There was also a modest gain in coverage among people 19 to 25 (539,000) approximately 40% of whom obtained coverage through their parent’s health plan as a result of the 2010 health law.

While the number of people covered by private health insurance last year was statistically unchanged from 2010, the share of Americans with private coverage, 63.9%, shows a slight drop and continues a three-decade-long trend of diminishing coverage through private insurance.

While the national count of uninsured went down slightly, the number of uninsured climbed in 21 states, most significantly in California, where 197,000 additional people became uninsured since 2010. The Census Bureau reported that California’s uninsured numbered 7.4 million in 2011, or 19.7% of the population.

The Census Bureau report underscores the urgency of implementing a single-payer, improved-Medicare-for-all program. Such a program would ensure truly universal, comprehensive, high-quality coverage for everyone while ridding us of insurance-company-related waste, bureaucracy, and profiteering. A single-payer system would save both lives and money.

Woodlander’s comments to not address waste and bureaucracy in government-run programs, such as Medicare.

Last Updated 10/4/2017

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