View: Ensure health coverage for all New Yorkers

December 12, 2014

 

Elizabeth Rosenthal, M.D.9:13 a.m. EST December 12, 2014

Implementing the New York Health bill could provide a single-payer health insurance system for the state.

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(Photo: Hemera Technologies/Getty Images)

Although the Affordable Care Act has made improvements in our health-care system by expanding access and curbing the most abusive practices of the health insurance industry, it does not address the core problems with our current health-care system.

While adding 900,000 formerly uninsured New Yorkers to the insurance rolls is no small success, healthcare remains too expensive for the average family.

The costs of deductibles, copays and out-of-network charges remain major obstacles, and these bloated, unnecessary charges we pay to profit-driven health insurance corporations have not been brought under control by the Affordable Care Act.

They effectively leave millions of our fellow New Yorkers uninsured or underinsured — one job loss or illness away from bankruptcy — and unable to truly access critical care.

This broken system also severely limits our access to certain doctors and medicine, as insurance companies decide which doctors and medications deserve to be covered within their networks.

Billions of dollars continue to be wasted by for-profit insurance companies under this defective model. We can do better!

Eliminate middleman

These billions of squandered dollars could all be going toward providing health care if we eliminated this unnecessary middleman and its inflated costs.

Implementing the New York Health Bill could accomplish this — not only making care affordable to New York families but also by saving New Yorkers $20 billion a year, plus helping us cut our property taxes by eliminating local government’s costs of paying for Medicaid and their employees’ health care.

All New York residents would be covered, there would be no premiums, deductibles copays or out-of-network charges, and we would have our free choice of doctors, hospitals and health care providers.

As a physician, I have seen up close how my patients are suffering: unable to pay for their medications, tests and doctor visits. Because of this, many delay treatment until their health is in serious jeopardy. They are forced to choose between buying food and buying pills. They avoid costly tests and doctor visits, so that a curable cancer becomes deadly due to lack of timely treatment.

Every day, five New Yorkers die due to a lack of health care. That’s about 2,000 lives per year in our state.

There is a growing movement in New York, and across the country, to push for state single-payer systems; 25 states have introduced single-payer bills.

New York State can lead the way. Our state Legislature can resolve these problems by passing the “New York Health” bill.

It provides privately delivered health care to New Yorkers without the restrictions and exorbitant costs that residents face from insurance companies.

It’s a win-win by saving taxpayers and businesses billions of dollars while improving health care for everyone.

It would not only change the way we treat health care — as a basic human right instead of a luxury — but would also help improve overall public health by ensuring the health of all New Yorkers, which ultimately would benefit us all.

It’s why we need to pass this important bill.

The writer is an assistant clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and a Larchmont resident.

VIEW THE LEGISLATION

Read the New York Health bill. Go to assembly.state.ny.us and type in the bill number (A05389 or S02078-A) in the Quick Bill Search window.

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