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Why Health Care is Complicated

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I’m turning 65 this year, so I’ve been receiving reams of unsolicited information about Medicare. As I’ve reviewed it, one thing has become very clear. The intricacies and Byzantine complexities of Medicare (and also of employment-based health care in general) are not to help consumers manage their health care expenses. They are to limit costs—and thus improve profitability—for health insurers and providers. One huge advantage to a single-payer federally funded health care system would be an exponential reduction in complexity and the costs associated with maintaining a bureaucracy to navigate those complexities. Those costs are already borne by consumers because they are passed on to them by insurers and providers in the form of higher premiums and some of the most expensive health care services in the world.

Conservatives drown out every good argument for radical change in our health care system with shouts of “Socialism!” but the truth is that most developed countries in the West have had tax-funded health care for their entire populations for decades without descending into chaos like Venezuela. Even in the United States we have decades of experience covering nearly everyone over 65 without all the catastrophes conservatives keep predicting for socialized medicine. It’s time to cut out the complications of our health care system and create a system designed with the best interests of health care consumers in mind.

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