With single-payer, be careful what you wish for

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I am writing this letter regarding Molly Rush’s letter on a single-payer system for health care (“Single-Payer Is the Way Forward on Health Care,” Dec. 8).

I am a 61-year-old man with a political science degree from the University of Pittsburgh with more than 27 years of experience in institutional pharmaceutical sales calling on all the hospitals in Western Pennsylvania, the last eight years working as a part-time health insurance agent. This provides me with a unique understanding of the health insurance problem in the United States with knowledge of the federal government as well as the health care industry and health insurance industry.

In all countries with a single-payer system a value-added tax is applied to all products from 18 to 25 percent. If you buy a new car worth $20,000, a 20 percent value-added tax applies with the 20 percent or $4,000 going to the government to pay for health care. This is basically a hidden tax on all products that the consumer doesn’t see, so the health care is not free. There are generally waiting periods of six to 12 months or longer before elective surgery can be approved. Decisions are also made: For example, does a 65-year-old woman have a life expectancy to warrant paying for a knee replacement? If you are denied approval for a surgical procedure today by one insurance company, you can choose another company. With a single-payer system you have no alternatives.

There are by most reports 40 million to 50 million uninsured U.S. citizens. This includes about 20 million young people ages 21 to 40 who don’t feel they need it. The rest can’t afford or get coverage due to pre-existing conditions. This problem can be solved by allowing insurance to be sold across state lines without regard to your health. The competition this would create would bring the prices to more affordable levels.


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