Re: the April 22 editorial, “Our View: Anthem not telling the whole story in Maine price dispute”:

Maine Medical Center’s decision to leave the Anthem provider network reminds us it is time for single-payer, universal health care. Our present system costs more and often delivers less than that of any other developed country.

The potential savings are not always appreciated. A study published in 2020 in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, showed that a publicly-funded, single-payer plan could guarantee health insurance with generous benefits to everyone and still reduce the national health care expenditure by 13.1 percent, or $450 billion annually. Scaling to Maine’s share of the U.S. population yields annual savings to the state of $1.86 billion. (An independent, earlier study, specifically for the state of Maine, reached a similar figure of $1.5 billion.)

Even more impressive is the finding that such a plan could save an estimated 68,500 American lives every year. To put that number in perspective, it exceeds the number of lives that would be saved by eliminating all deaths due to influenza and pneumonia combined (53,500) or all firearm deaths (45,200) or all motor vehicle traffic deaths (40,700).

The government already administers successfully a single-payer system (Medicare) for older Americans, who, surveys show, are happy with it. Expanding Medicare to include everyone would give us an insurance plan with the largest possible risk pool. Risk would be shared across the entire population, and everyone would share the benefits. The case for it is now more compelling than ever.

 


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