As a physician, I see first-hand that our healthcare system isn’t working. The progress we made in expanding coverage is being turned back, while the drug companies, hospital conglomerates, and insurance companies make record profits.
The focus on healthcare has been almost exclusively on insurance, but this is only one piece of the healthcare system. Much of this system is not competitive, which drives up costs and lowers access. We must focus on the entire system if we are going to lower costs and increase access to care.
When it comes to pharmaceuticals in the US, the market is not competitive. One way to increase competition is to allow Americans the option of purchasing prescriptions across international borders, and to allow the country’s biggest insurer – Medicare – to negotiate prices. We use 34% of the patented medicines yet produce 72% of pharma profits.
In some parts of the country there is only one healthcare system for 100 miles in any direction and only one insurer on the exchanges. This lack of competition drives up prices and leads to poorer care. We can increase competition in these cases by provided public options, breaking up healthcare monopolies, and adding access to competitors through innovative technologies such as telemedicine.
Finally, many Americans would like to retire before they are eligible for Medicare, but may not be able to because of the high cost of private insurance. We need to allow Americans the option to buy into Medicare starting at age 50.