Catastrophes are just imaginary


To the editor:

(re: “Medicare for All will cripple doctors, hospitals,” July 25)

Sally Pipes’ imaginary scenario for what would happen to doctors and hospitals in this country if we adopted Medicare for All is just that: imaginary. All the evidence from history, both here and in other countries, shows us that the reality is completely different.

When Medicare was adopted in this country, it did not bring in socialism any more than our public schools, fire and police departments, libraries and parks did.

In other countries where single-payer plans were adopted — such as in Canada and Taiwan — they did not bring about all the catastrophes predicted by Ms. Pipes.

In our country, Medicare turned into a boon for physicians whose elderly patients could not afford to pay them, and gave them chickens instead of cash.

In my practice, I was paid promptly by Medicare, but had to fight with insurance companies to get paid. After delaying payment for months with demands for further nonsensical information, they asked me to accept a fraction of what I was owed if I wanted to get paid then.

The incentives are all wrong in our system where private, for-profit insurance companies earn profits by denying care and successfully avoiding sick people. The more care they deliver, the lower the profits. And these companies are the ones that impose burdensome bureaucratic tasks upon doctors, not the government.

By contrast, in countries with public instead of corporate funding for health care, patients get the care they need instead of the care they can afford, and physicians do not have to spend hours pleading with insurance companies to get paid. They can spend more time with their patients instead.

When we finally do adopt Medicare for All, the leader responsible might become — as happened in Canada to Tommy Douglas, who first introduced their public plan — the most admired political figure.

Elizabeth Rosenthal

The author is a medical doctor in Larchmont.


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