Can you imagine the attractive buildings and richly designed offices these insurers occupy, and can you also imagine the rent costs for offices, cubicles and workspace for over 1 million employees? Including cooling in the summers and heating in the winters and constant maintenance? I marvel at how a company like UnitedHealth Group that collected $2.2 billion in premiums can pay the salaries for 236,000 employees plus hundreds of millions in rent, utilities, legal, accounting, etc. and still have enough cash left over to pay the medical bills of those they insure, then make a profit!
Rather than paying 125 cooks to make stew and 125 payroll departments to write checks and pay bills located in 125 different office buildings, a single-payer plan would consolidate everything under one CEO, one president, one treasurer, one accounting department, one central office location, one computer system. The amount of money — tens of billions of dollars annually — that could be saved would buy a lot of aircraft carriers, ice cream cones and pizzas, and perhaps better care.
There are some negatives. Some say hospitals and physicians would have to accept reimbursement rates somewhat lower than today’s rates. This could create an exodus of doctors and deter other bright young people from entering the field. Though most doubt it. Still, a single-payer system is in the cards, and within the next 10 to a dozen years it may be a certainty. Access to health care must be a right, not a privilege.