Wrong for America, New York


To the editor:

The American profit-based health care system isn’t working for too many Americans.

The parents of a dear friend of mine had to sell their home and move into a nursing home because home care was so expensive. My cousin lost his son to a drug overdose because they couldn’t afford treatment for him. One friend of mine lost her and her family’s health insurance when her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly.

The cost of insurance keeps rising, now costing nearly $20,000 per year for a family of four. And increasingly, people can’t afford to use insurance because the cost of co-pays and deductibles is more than they can afford.

With the exception of the very wealthy, people delay getting medical care — including routine checkups — and end up in the emergency room with serious conditions.

A minor cut becomes a major infection. A discoloration on the skin develops into cancer.

Most drugs in America cost three times more than they do in Europe. Stories abound of people rationing their insulin or blood pressure medicine, sometimes losing their lives as a result.

On a national scale, 60 percent of bankruptcies are the result of medical debt incurred by people with health insurance — and millions of people still have no insurance. The stress, insecurity and poor health outcomes caused by the health care system are further evidence the system is failing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed structural problems within the American system. Hospital facilities proved to be inadequate because our system is based on profit. Unprofitable hospitals were closed, and spare beds weren’t maintained, resulting in an inadequate supply when the pandemic struck.

Some 120 rural hospitals closed in the 10 years ending in 2019. Some 30 million people have lost their jobs — and consequently their health insurance — because of the pandemic. The brunt is falling disproportionately on Black and brown communities, exacerbating racial tensions.

It is time to change the system before the next pandemic.

The New York Health Act is a single-payer health care system that manages payments to doctors and hospitals. Doctors and hospitals are privately owned.

Like Medicare, another single-payer system, the act would eliminate the enormous administrative expenses needed to track payments to multiple insurance companies with varying plans and formularies.

It is twice-vetted in reputable studies by the Rand Corp., in 2018, and the University of Massachusetts study by Gerald Freidman in 2015.

Achievable savings are large enough to provide health care to every resident of New York, and to include long-term care as well.

New York needs the New York Health Act now. Write to your state senator and Assemblyman, and tell them to support the New York Health Act.

Helen Meltzer-Krim

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Helen Meltzer-Krim,