The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 12, 2013

Single payer costs less, buys more

Bob Jentges’ piece from Nov. 5 about single payer health care presents misinformation that should be addressed.

As a physician, I see firsthand the results of our complex and costly private insurance-based health care system. People who have no insurance or are underinsured are much more likely to suffer stress and financial hardship and to put off needed care resulting in illness and sometimes death. We can do better.

The Lewin Group’s economic analysis of a single payer system in Minnesota concluded that health benefits can be provided to all Minnesotans, including the 262,000 not covered under the ACA and will save money. The average family would save $1,240 annually and the state would save $4 billion in the first year alone by eliminating the excessive administrative costs and inefficiencies of our current privatized health insurance system.

Single payer is not “socialized medicine.” Proposed legislation in Minnesota (Senate File 18) and in the U.S. Congress (House Resolution 676) specifies a system that is publicly funded and privately delivered — doctors, clinics, hospitals would continue to compete by providing quality service to patients.

Traditional Medicare (Parts A & B) is an example of a single payer type of system. While serving the elderly and disabled, the most costly health care consumers, Medicare operates at less than 3 percent overhead, compared to overhead of approximately 20 percent among private insurers, who do not cover those who need it most! Single payer supporters advocate for an “improved and expanded Medicare for all” (no private insurance premiums, co-pays, or deductibles) — a unified single payer system providing full access to needed health care for all of us.

Laurel Gamm, M.D.

New Ulm

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