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Single-payer universal health care is the answer

I read with interest the June 3 article about the difficulties that patients face navigating our present health care system. Our system is complicated, dominated by entities for which the bottom line is financial, not patient-centered. There have been attempts to address problems with incremental modifications, but this does nothing to make the system simpler. In the story, Dr. Victor Montori said making the system better for patients requires big change. I agree. We need to change the way we pay for health care in this country, with a single-payer universal health care system.

I say this as a doctor who has practiced medicine, and as a patient who has received health care in New Zealand. New Zealand has a universal health care system that is simpler for both doctors and patients. Prior authorizations and referrals are easy to submit. Prescription drugs cost $5 per prescription. Patients receive assistance with transportation, child care, rent and groceries if necessary. Medical bankruptcy is unheard of. Yet, New Zealand accomplishes all of this for about half of the per capita cost when compared to the United States.

Economic analysis has shown that single-payer would actually reduce health expenditures while providing high-quality coverage to all U.S. residents. If our country expanded traditional Medicare to include everyone and broadened coverage to eliminate the need for supplemental plans for medical and dental services and prescription drugs, we’d have a simpler system, and everyone would be covered.

I challenge our elected officials to work for patient-centered universal health care.

Julie Keller Pease

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