Medicare for all


From: Rosine Tenenbaum
Winona State University
Professor Emeritus

A few years ago, when I was put in charge of my father’s finances, I became acquainted with “La Carte Vitale,” a small plastic card, dearer to the French than their European passport.

Going to visit the doctor? Use your card. Trip in an ambulance to the emergency room? The card. Operation, chiropractor, walker, medical supplies, drugs: the card. No money was exchanged (or almost none), no co-pays, no authorization and no worries except one: get better.

Who paid? Each month, a percentage of my father’s income was withdrawn from his account. Very reasonable, I thought. About the same percentage as my Medicare plan B. How simple, I thought. How come we don’t have that system in the U.S.? Actually, people on Social Security do, and so do our veterans.

When I would bring up the concept of universal health care to some of my friends I would get responses such as, “It cannot happen here. What would happen to the health insurance industries and to all those who invest in them and work for them?” My answer, “Of course the cost of doctors, nurses, hospital administrators and drugs would have to be controlled and kept in line with other professional remunerations [at which point I can hear the groan of lobbies and interested parties], but can we afford this system as it is?”

According to World Health Organization statistics, when you look them up under countries you find out that we spend 17 percent of our gross national product on health care — much more than most countries whose expenses vary around 10 percent. Check it out for yourself.

When people say they want to have a choice in their health care provider, my response is, “Do you have a choice now?” The insurance companies decide where you can receive care and what procedures and expenses will be reimbursed. With universal health care, you would have a choice, and have access to that coverage anywhere in the U.S.

Another response I get is, “I do not want to pay for people who don’t contribute.” But don’t you already? You pay for richly remunerated CEOs and the gold plans of some. This year, you paid for people who needed expensive procedures when you only visited your general practitioner once. Everyone pays for everyone else. All for one; one for all!

So then they say, “Universal health care is socialism.” Wow! The ultimate ideological objection! My answer: England, France, Germany, Canada … socialist countries? Their people do not seem to mind. In fact, the British are so fond of their National Health Service, they featured it in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics along with their Queen.

So is health care a right? Wrong question. Simply put, it is what developed, modern countries DO! Universal health care, along with the postal service, transportation, energy, police, public education, parks, libraries and all sorts of amenities make life more livable in first-world countries Maybe some would also object to all those as well, and would prefer to live in Timbuktu.

The card, anyone? Or, better said, MEDICARE FOR ALL!


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