By Andrew Huston for Herald Tribune

It is time that we transition to a health-care system that assures coverage of every man, woman and child in this nation while controlling costs.

The central goals of Medicare for All are to significantly improve health outcomes for U.S. residents while also forming effective cost controls. An economic analysis of Medicare for All legislation, conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute this past fall, concludes that both endpoints are achievable.

Citing a study by the U.S. Institute of Medicine back in 2009, the group found that people lacking health insurance suffer from worse health and die sooner than those who have decent insurance. The institute group affirmed the findings with an extensive 2017 literature survey, and added, “coverage expansions significantly increase patients’ use of preventative care, primary care, chronic illness treatment, medications and surgery.”

The group also concluded that countries that provide universal coverage generate superior health outcomes in relation to the United States. There are 34 countries that score higher than the United States on the Health Access and Quality Index, a metric that measures preventable mortality.

Today, roughly 10% of the U.S. population, or 34 million people, is uninsured. It is estimated that roughly 26%, or 89 million people, are underinsured — which is defined as people who are unable to access care due to prohibitively high costs. The study concludes that overall demand for health-care services will rise by about 12% through Medicare for All through its four-year ramp-up to complete coverage of the population.

Medicare for All has the potential to accomplish huge cost savings in relation to the existing system. Some estimates have this number as large as a 19% reduction, with the most savings coming from the areas of health administration, pharmaceutical pricing and the establishment of uniform rates for hospitals, physicians and clinics. Additional savings are obtainable from identifying sources of waste and fraud.

Spending on health-care expenditures for 2017 came in at $3.27 trillion, according to this study (minus public health programs). With Medicare for All creating an overall increase demand for health-care services at 12% and a cost savings of roughly 19%, health-care expenditures would fall to $2.93 trillion, using the same 2017 figures. This is roughly a 10% reduction in these expenditures while covering all U.S. residents.

It is time for us to join the rest of the planet in recognizing health care as a human right and not a privilege for those who can afford it. Find local candidates that support Medicare for All and, most importantly, register your friends and families to vote like our lives depend on it!

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