By James Garb for Cape Cod Times
Medicare celebrates its 53rd birthday this month. One of the two most popular government programs, along with Social Security, Medicare now enrolls 10,000 new Americans every day.
Cutting across party affiliation, more than three-quarters of all Americans consider Medicare to be a “very important” program. Today universal health coverage is considered by most people to be a basic human right.
Medicare is simple and efficient, with administrative overhead of just over 3 percent, compared with about 30 percent for private insurers.
We could solve America’s health care crisis by improving Medicare’s benefits and expanding it to everyone with a single-payer plan like H.R. 676, The Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act.
There have been many costly proposals to increase insurance coverage, mostly by subsidizing profit-driven private insurance. But single-payer Medicare for all would save an estimated $617 billion annually by slashing the administrative waste of private insurance ($504 billion) and bargaining down drug prices ($113 billion), freeing up enough money for universal coverage without any net increase in U.S. health spending.
Those who love Medicare should ask their member of Congress to protect it, improve it and expand it to cover everyone in America.
The writer is a physician specializing in internal medicine.