Study Shows Universal Healthcare in Maine Could Cover Everyone — and Cost Less

Maine has waited long enough.

For years now, America has famously had the world’s highest health care costs among developed nations — yet has the lowest health care quality.

Why? Because the middleman in our healthcare system has been the private insurance industry, which by almost any sensible measure has failed the American people.

The industry accepts massive taxpayer subsidies yet rations access to doctors and quality of care, won’t integrate medical records and billing systems to improve care and reduce fraud, and fails to produce competitive, low-cost medicines — while siphoning off billions in profits.

Here in Maine, fortunately, a new study by the nonpartisan Maine Center for Economic Policy has shown that our state can finally cut out the middleman.

The study found that a universal, publicly funded healthcare plan covering every Maine resident could save $1.5 billion a year in total healthcare spending, eliminate insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and give 80 percent of us a net gain in household income.

Under the plan, federal programs such as Medicare would be retained, most employers would pay the same or less than they do now to cover employees, and hospitals and providers would remain private and be paid promptly and directly at Medicare rates.

The plan’s not perfect. And more work needs to be done.

But still, it’s big news. It should be making a big splash. Let’s write to our legislators today and say, “Get on it!”

George Simonson, Harpswell

Note: this letter was originally published on January 8, 2020 in the Bangor Daily News