Barnicle, Sanders, Insurance and Health Care

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On March 29, 2017, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was being interviewed on a range of current topics. When it came to veteran columnist Mike Barnicle’s turn, his question earned Sanders’ praise. The Senator remarked that this was one of the first times this question had been raised on TV. The question? The role of insurance companies in the health care debate.

Sen. Sanders once again explained to viewers that the US is the only Western democracy that does not guarantee its citizens health care. Those other nations provide quality care at half or one-third our average per capita cost. How do they do that? They do not let insurance companies and their profit motives call the shots (I’m paraphrasing). Sen. Sanders will soon introduce legislation in Congress to expand Medicare – a very popular program in the US – to cover all Americans, not just those over 65.  Barnicle then quipped about how Medicare hasn’t proven its worth (to conservatives): it’s only been 50 years!

What Sanders did not go on to say was that the excellent European health insurance system is on a non-profit basis. In contrast, our insurance companies are very much for-profit corporations, with CEOs earning astronomical salaries. I’m not blaming Sanders for not mentioning this fact (I assume he knows): it’s probably highly unlikely that the US would go in the non-profit direction for health insurance anytime soon, so perhaps we need to continue taking baby steps in the pursuit of health care for all.

At any rate, the more we know about the health care scene worldwide the more likely we are to make decisions in our own country that work in our own best interests rather than against them.

See also Sen. Sanders’ 2016 statement on single payer health insurance.