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‘Medicare For All’ Isn’t A Scary Phrase; Don’t Let Insurance Companies Instill Fear

You can always tell when we’re getting closer to a presidential election.

The TV ads sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt get ramped up; and we all get angry, discouraged, and distracted. This year, it’s the health insurance corporations who are taking over our airwaves. And it seems that they’re getting desperate. They’ve noticed that people are starting to see through their lies and are demanding single payer Medicare for All.

Make no mistake — these corporations know exactly what they’re doing. They know how to frighten and distract us, and they know how to trick us into protecting their interests rather than our own health and pocketbooks. They’ve got us running scared because we forget that they are not our friends. They only make a profit when they take our money and then give us back as little healthcare as they can get away with. That’s their business model, and it’s rotten to the core.

Have you heard this one? “If we let more people into the system, things will only get worse.”

Or how about “If we let more people into Medicare, my premiums will go up.”

Or my favorite: “Don’t abolish my private insurance for government-run healthcare.”

That last one slipped right by me, and I didn’t even notice it. Think about that question with me. Few people want to sign up for “abolishing” anything. But in this case what you’d be giving up is an airplane seat in the back of coach for a cheaper seat in first class. Watch out for the word “abolish” — it’s designed to scare us.

The word “private” is misleading; we Americans like our “private” stuff, no matter what it is. But the reality is that very little about American health insurance is “private” these days. Our employers choose our insurance options, and those insurance companies tell us which doctors and hospitals are allowed. We should each be free to decide where, when and from whom we get our healthcare. It’s pretty rare these days for “private” insurance to give you that much control, but that’s exactly what Medicare does.

“Government-run” or “government takeover” suggests a system that robs us of our control. But it misrepresents the fact that Medicare for All puts each of us back in control of our own healthcare decisions. Virtually every doctor and hospital would be in the system, or they’d have to turn down the insurance that covers every single person in their community. If you hear the phrase “government run,” and it gets your hackles up, notice how that language makes you feel pushed into a corner. Make no mistake, that’s by design. Consider the source.

Even the seemingly neutral word “healthcare” is designed to overstate what single-payer is about. Medicare for All is only about the way we pay for healthcare. Notice the way we always hear about private insurance but government-run healthcare.

Imagine being able to go to any emergency room, any physician, any hospital, any pharmacy, anywhere in the United States and not be terrified of an unending sea of bills that trickle in months later and force you into bankruptcy. Imagine being able to change jobs and not have to change insurance and physicians. Imagine having this uniquely American albatross taken off your back.

We are the only modern nation that must imagine this; every other nation is already there.

They have the freedom to pick their own doctors, live several years longer than we do, and typically spend half of what we spend per person, all while not having to fight for every crumb your “private” insurer is willing to give up.

And our American businesses need to compete with those nations.

Medicare for All means you control your own healthcare decisions, and no corporation is looking to deny your care in the service of their profits. Medicare for All means your employer can negotiate wages with you and not have to protect their company from having one employee develop an expensive illness. And Medicare for All means you’re no longer one illness away from bankruptcy.

Want to learn more? Want to disagree and help me understand why I’m wrong? I’m eager to meet and speak with you. I’ll be speaking about this 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening, August 21, in the Progress Sports Complex at the the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center, 21390 Highway 32.

The presentation is open to the public with no tickets, no RSVPs. Just show up and join the discussion at this special meeting of the Ste. Genevieve County Democratic Club. Hope to see you there.

[Dr. Ed Weisbart, M.D., is the chairman of the Missouri chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program.]

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