I am a liberal Democrat -- Here's why I am convinced that 'Medicare for all' is a bad idea

In a recent interview, presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said she supports “Medicare for all.” It’s an idea that’s popular among Democrats and, according to the polls, among most Americans. But as Sen. Harris admitted, under “Medicare for all,” people wouldn’t be able to keep their current health care plans.

Without a doubt there are people on the left who want a single-payer health care system that dismantles the private insurance industry. But I do not believe this is what all Democrats want, and I certainly do not believe that the 70 percent of people who say they support “Medicare for all” want it to replace all private insurance options.

I think there’s a disconnect here.

DR. MARC SIEGEL: KAMALA HARRIS’ ‘MEDICARE-FOR-ALL’ PLAN PLAGUED WITH PROBLEMS, BAD FOR PATIENTS

Do Americans really want Medicare specifically – the current national health insurance program for people aged 65 and older – for all? Or do they generally want a system – any system – under which the government, not the individual people, pays for health insurance?

Do Democrats really want “Medicare for all” which inherently would abolish private health care? Or do they generally want every American to be covered by a system under which some are willing and able to pay for insurance, and others who aren’t have a plan provided to them that protects them from going bankrupt when they get sick?

“Medicare for all” is a nice catch phrase and a great line to toss around during political campaigns. But what would that system be like in reality? Well, let’s look at some of our neighbors.

Over 200 million Americans have private insurance plans and I am one of them. Yes, all Americans need to be insured. But I believe we can and must make that happen without taking away the insurance options that millions of Americans currently rely on.

Across the pond, the British National Health Service is one that Democrats often point to as a good model. Many Britons – my best friend and her family who live in London included – have private insurance in addition to the government-provided plan. They use the National Health Service for yearly checkups, well visits with the pediatrician, and annual screenings. But for things more severe or chronic, they see doctors under their private insurance. Other countries like Canada see much of the same practice.

Why? Well, there are many reasons.

First, if you’re just having a regular checkup, you probably don’t care too much about the doctor/patient relationship, about bedside manner, or even about how many checkups that doctor has performed. But if you have something serious, like cancer or a chronic disease, having a choice about who you entrust your life to is important.

Second, wait times are a big problem. In Canada, the Fraser Institute found that patients wait for 20 weeks on average to receive the tests, procedures and treatments they need from a specialist. And how about here in the United States? Remember the wait times at the government-run Veterans Affairs health care system, which resulted in nearly 100 deaths? And the problem still hasn’t been fixed.

The truth is, many of those same people who said they support “Medicare for all” would also say they want less government in their lives. There are many on the left who don’t want the government making decisions about what they can or can’t do with their bodies. “Medicare for all” takes that choice away and puts the government in charge of making decisionS about your health. Sadly, those decisions will often be based on money.

And speaking of money, we can’t overlook the cost. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., an early and enthusiastic supporter of “Medicare for all,” admits on his website that the program would cost $1.38 trillion a year. Who is going to pay for that and how?

Lastly, many Americans see through the false promises being made about “Medicare for all,” like Sen. Harris’ when she said: “You don’t have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through paperwork, all of the delay that may require.”

This is flat out wrong. My husband, a doctor, is part of a medical group with 24 surgeons. When he was first starting the practice, I would help in the office. And I can assure you, the process you go through with Medicare is no better than, and often worse than, what you go through with private insurance. You absolutely have to get prior authorization and approval for tests, MRIs, ultrasounds, surgeries, etc.

The bottom line is this: “Medicare for All” might work in theory, but not in practice. Health care can’t and shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all item.

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Over 200 million Americans have private insurance plans and I am one of them. Yes, all Americans need to be insured. But I believe we can and must make that happen without taking away the insurance options that millions of Americans currently rely on.

Simply put, Medicare works for some, but not for all.

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