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Health insurance should not be market based


Our congressman, Dan Newhouse, (R-4th Dist.) has repeatedly advocated for “market-based health insurance,” promising that for-profit health insurance companies will deliver on the goals of less expensive, higher quality, and more available healthcare in the U.S. He is not alone in pushing this mantra. Neither he nor others provide evidence to support their infatuation with market-based health insurance. On the contrary, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that market-based health insurance provides very expensive, lower quality healthcare.

The majority of health insurance issued in the U.S. since World War II has been issued by market-based health insurance companies. We, therefore, have decades of experience with this sort of system. It has performed poorly, based on comparisons with other industrialized countries, which generally do not rely on an unregulated market. Americans pay much more for health care (including premiums, out of pocket expenses, deductibles, employer contributions and taxes), twice as much as other industrialized countries, and get much less. Compared with 34 other industrialized countries, the U.S. ranks 26th in life expectancy, and 31st in infant mortality. Only Chile, Mexico, Turkey and the U.S. don’t have universal healthcare. Illness and medical bills are the leading cause of individual bankruptcy in the U.S.

We should look at our own experience with non-market based health insurance (i.e., Medicare) and how other countries provide better and less expensive insurance for all citizens. Medicare for all would be a big improvement over market-based health insurance. There are lots of success stories from other industrialized countries, with decades of track record. None of them rely on unregulated market-based health insurance. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to get my health insurance from a system whose primary goal is not to make a profit, but to provide a service.

David Clement M.D.


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