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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
News Editor

I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

NEVER STOP RUNNING — Many people turn to the treadmill once temperatures start to drop. The truth is, with proper protection, you can keep running outside as long as youd like.
Opinion — Outdoor exercise in the chilly seasons
Harry StineDecember 5, 2023

U.S. needs to implement single-payer health care

I hate Obamacare. Seriously, it makes me grind my teeth. While GOP presidential candidates like Rick Santorum hate it for supposedly taking away people’s “individual liberty” from free market health care, I dislike Obamacare for other reasons. Instead of Obamacare, the U.S. needs a single-payer universal health care system.

Santorum supports free market health care and adamantly opposes Obamacare. Recently, he said, “I’m in this race because Barack Obama doesn’t trust you enough that you can go out, given a level playing field and an opportunity, to go out and buy your own health insurance, to manage your own affairs, to decide what policies you want, how much you want to pay for it, what doctors you want to see, how much your co-pays are.”

Didn’t you hear, Rick? Free markets, meaning no government involvement in the economy, don’t work. Anyone that truly studied the pervasive nature of information asymmetries, externalities and imperfect competition in markets, would see that free markets don’t lead to efficiency. If anything, neoclassical economic models prove free markets are inefficient by nature.

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Government can help reduce information asymmetries, promote positive economic externalities and create more robust competition than collusive oligopolies. Proponents of the free market have not convinced me that government involvement in the economy is hurtful.

The U.S. needs a single-payer universal health care system (Medicare-for-all). Most countries around the world, if they are economically developed enough, have universal health care systems, whether single-payer or a mix of private and government insurance.

Germany has had universal health care insurance since the late 1800s. More than 200 years later, the United States still lacks universal health care coverage for its citizens. During that time period, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Britain, Japan, Canada, France, Spain, Norway, Taiwan and many other countries have achieved universal health insurance coverage.

President Truman was the first president to try to pass universal health insurance in the U.S. His efforts failed in 1945 because the American Medical Association and American Bar Association lobbied for its defeat, using fears of the Red Scare to thwart universal health care. No U.S. president has succeeded in passing universal health care in the past 67 years. This must change.

The U.S. health care system is a disaster. That is why a May 2007 CNN poll, similar to many other polls between 2003 and 2009, showed that 64 percent of respondents supported a national health insurance program for all Americans.

Our health care system spends 31 percent of its overall expenditures on administrative overhead, in contrast to Canada’s 1.3 percent administrative overhead. The U.S. spends more on administrative costs because the more insurers there are for a given set of people, the higher the insurers’ overlapping administrative costs are going to be. That is why countries with only one insurer (single-payer) can cover all their citizens at a lower cost.

The United States spends twice the amount on health care per capita than any other country. Even with all these expenditures, we don’t achieve universal coverage. There are 48 million Americans with no health care coverage; another 50 million people who are underinsured, and the rest of us are getting hit with bigger and bigger deductibles and co-payments. Even worse, 45,000 American die each year because they are not able to afford health insurance.

Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands health insurance access to 30 million Americans, it has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. First, it still leaves 23 million people without health insurance.

Second, even though Republicans called Obamacare a “government takeover” of health insurance, it did nothing of the sort. Instead, Obamacare subsidizes health insurance companies more than $447 billion annually. That is why, right after Obamacare passed, health insurance companies’ stocks soared in value.

Lastly, 23,000 people will still die per year under Obamacare because they can’t afford health insurance.

Republicans like Santorum agree with me that Obamacare is flawed, but that is where my similarity with them ends. The Republican Party really believes that free market health care is possible. Even my law and economics textbook last year could have proved that one wrong.

To lower insurance costs, you must spread risk and uncertainty around as much as possible. The best way to achieve this is by using one insurance pool (single-payer). Free market health care would actually increase the cost of insurance by increasing overlapping administrative costs onto the consumer.

Obamacare was flawed when signed into legislation. The solution is not free market health care. We must move forward towards a universal health care system for all Americans.

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