Opinion: Health care is a right, not just for the privileged Colorado Sun 8/18/19

Opinion: Health care is a right, not just for the privileged

Sometimes you just have to take a leap into the unknown when you see that the status quo is simply not working. 

In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt did just that when he signed Social Security into law. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson did the same with Medicare, which provides health care to all Americans over 65, regardless of income or medical history.

At the time, these programs were both wildly experimental, but not too many people today would argue that they were mistakes.

As the only licensed health professional in the U.S. Senate race in Colorado, my view is that we must make a bold move forward to provide Medicare for All. 

If you get sick in Australia, Canada, Portugal, Iceland, Denmark, Ireland, the U.K., Italy, Germany, Sweden, Spain and many other nations, you go to the doctor and receive care free of charge. Health care is considered a right.

Here in America, we have a private health insurance system that is costly and grossly inadequate. Who is paying for it? We are. It is not the medical care that is the problem; it is the access to health care and the insurance companies’ administration of the care which is tight-fisted, inhumane and selective.

Many people are turned away for lack of health insurance, and go without care. Many people avoid preventative care because it is too expensive. Many people avoid going to the hospital because they cannot afford the deductibles.

Insurance companies are profiting off our injuries, illnesses and accidents — to the tune of billions of dollars — and they provide a false narrative about providing people with security. For this reason, I agree with the positions of U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Here in America, we need a single payer Medicare for All system.

Insurance does not give us safety and security. If that was the case, why are 30 million people without insurance and tens of millions more have insurance but are still vulnerable? This is because one accident or illness can bankrupt a family.

High deductibles, copays and out of pocket costs make health insurance unaffordable for millions of people. The logistics of dealing with insurance companies’ denials is also impossibly difficult. The last thing most Americans want to spend their time doing is fighting a largely losing battle with insurance administrators. 

For all these reasons, I respectfully disagree with U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. Sen. Bennet is promoting the false narrative that people who have health insurance through their work, like and feel secure with their insurance. Has he ever met anyone who likes their insurance?

Possibly some people who have means know that they can afford the high deductibles and premiums that are the requirement for getting care. And this is the reason why our health system suits people of privilege and very few others. Even those with insurance through their jobs are susceptible to high deductibles, premiums and copays, and if they lose or change jobs, they and their families lose their insurance. What security is there in that?

Medicare is the most popular medical administration system in this country. Why not extend it to include vision, hearing, dental, disabilities and mental health?

This simple move would free our country of the stranglehold that the insurance companies have around our necks. Sure, there would be a tax to pay for it, but the tax would be far lower than what we are all paying now.

The U.S. government would save $260 billion a year on tax refunds to employers alone, and citizens would not be paying the costs of a bloated, duplicative system whose advertising and overhead is passed on to the average person. And finally, drug prices would no longer be through the roof.

But a few senatorial seats will not insure this change. We need to take back the presidency as well as flip the Senate so we can institute a single payer, Medicare for All system.

If elected Democrats don’t strongly advocate for a medical system that protects us all, we can be sure that the Republicans will continue their march to destroy the fragile system that we have in place. 

We need to stop hanging by our fingertips, jump down and start again, and like some previous administrations, we need to be bold, not beholden to the insurance dynasties. We have the model and we just need the political will to extend healthcare to everybody.

Let’s join the rest of the modern world, treat our citizens with respect and begin to row in the same direction. Health care is a right, not a privilege.

Diana Bray, Psy.D., is a psychologist, mother of four, and candidate for U.S. Senate in Colorado

Diana Bray