FAQ’S about Health Care for All from League of Women Voters of the Piedmont (NC)
Won’t my taxes go up?
Yes. But increased taxes will be offset by decreased health care expenses for most families. The League of Women Voters supports a system paid for by public dollars instead of insurance premiums, which would disappear. Deductibles and copays would be based on income, just like taxes, so that lower income people would pay less than those with higher incomes. In our present system where half (and decreasing) of us get our health insurance through our jobs, the lowest paid employee in the company pays the same premium, deductible, and copays for insurance as the highest paid employee. Therefore, lower paid employees spend a higher percentage of their income on health care. This is especially true for families since family coverage is much more expensive than employee only coverage. With health care for all, lower and mid level wage earners would save money. A Rand Corp study commissioned by the state of New York in 2018 to consider a single payer system for the state concluded that only those earning $134,000 as individuals and $276,000 for a family of 4 would pay more for health care as a result of the tax increase.
Why should I pay higher taxes so other people can get health care?
You already pay for other people to get health care, in the least beneficial and least efficient way. When people can’t pay for preventive and/or ongoing care, they end up going to hospital emergency rooms, where they know they can get at least some help without paying for it. Guess who does pay for it? You. Hospitals add to what they charge you and your insurance company to cover treatment of the uninsured. You also pay in many overarching, indirect ways like increased costs of goods and services due to lower worker productivity, poorer overall public health, and increased burdens on several public services.
Won’t I have to wait longer to see a doctor and to have elective procedures and surgeries?
If we try to answer this question by comparing current wait times in the US to current wait times in countries that provide health care for all, we can’t. Not all countries measure wait times. (France, whose health care system is ranked #1 by the World Health Organization, does not even measure wait times.) Those that do measure wait times don’t use the same standards and methods so we can’t legitimately compare their results. We simply can’t answer this question. One thing we do know is the wait time for people who currently have no health insurance will improve dramatically.
Isn’t this socialized medicine?
Of the 32 developed countries that have health care for all, most do NOT have socialized medicine. Socialized medicine means the government owns the health care facilities and employs all the people who work in them, like in the UK and a few others. The rest of the world’s developed countries each have a system that works best for them. Some require everyone to buy health insurance through either their employer or the government. Some collect taxes and then pay private providers to deliver health care. Some have a system that combines both methods by taxing people to pay for basic services and if people want additional care they can buy insurance to cover it or pay for it out of pocket (at much lower costs than the US). Socialized medicine is only 1 way to provide health care for all, it is not the only way and most countries do it differently.
We have the best health care in the world. Why mess with success?
Actually, we don’t. We have excellent care in some areas but we fall behind many countries in others. Several organizations have researched and rank ordered the health care systems of developed countries based on factors like life expectancy, access, efficiency, medical errors, cost, and prevention. The US doesn’t rank in the top 10 in any of the studies!
Will I lose the ability to choose what doctor I go to?
Most health care for all systems allow people to choose their doctors.
Will health care be rationed?
At first glance, this seems like a straightforward question but it’s not. If we agree that rationing involves deciding how to use limited resources, that already happens in every health care system, including ours. There are several ways insurance companies in the US practice “covert rationing” (meaning they don’t want you to realize they are doing it). One example is when they create “in network” and “out of network” providers. “In network” providers are those that the company has negotiated with to accept lower payments for their services. You can still go to an “out of network” provider but you will pay more because that provider won’t accept payment at the same rate as “in network” providers. Another example is when an insurance company refuses to cover a drug or treatment because they label it “experimental”. Or when an insurance company gives its clients a list of “approved” drugs for various illnesses and conditions. That is rationing and it already happens in the US. These are just a few examples among many. Under health care for all, any rationing that occurs will not be a new concept or practice.
Last revised 08/07/19
- www.lwv.org/sites/default/files/2019-04/LWV 2018-20 Impact on Issues.pdf
- Rand Research Report: An Assessment of the New York Health Act, A Single Payer Option for New York State, Jodi L. Liu et al 2018