Bioethics Blogs

The Tyranny of Corporatized Health Care: Time for Single-Payer

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

In Illinois, Land of Lincoln insurance and Aetna announced that they are pulling out of the health insurance Marketplace. In other states, United HealthCare and Humana have announced pulling out of the exchanges. As a result, many newspaper headlines and political pundits have declared the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) to be in a “death spiral.”

Such statements are undermined by the latest studies showing the ACA is working. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that three-quarters of people who lacked insurance before the ACA now have it. RAND Corp found that more people are receiving medical treatment and getting needed prescriptions as a result of the ACA. The ACA is accomplishing its intent—giving more people insurance coverage so that they can receive medical care and have their diseases managed. Preventive management is cheaper than intensive and expensive interventions after a disease has progressed.

An internal Aetna letter obtained by the Huffington Post and comments from Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) suggest that Aetna’s move was not about losing money, but rather retaliation for the Department of Justice blocking the company’s proposed merger with Humana.

The Affordable Care Act leaves our health care subject to the whims of powerful corporations that exist to maximize profit and shareholder value, not to help policyholders access needed care. The health care of all Americans should not be held hostage by such companies.

In fifteen years as a professor of clinical bioethics and health policy, the one conclusion reached by every class I have taught is that the only long-term viable solution for affordable health care in this country is a single-payer system.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.