The recent outbreak and spread of COVID-19 proves how desperately we need to have a single-payer health care system, like “Medicare for All” proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Setting aside the awful, uncoordinated response from this administration and speaking specifically on COVID-19, if the poorest among us are unable to afford out-of-pocket costs like copays and deductibles for testing or treatment, or are unable to afford a health care plan outright to get treatment, it affects all of us and will affect the poorest communities the hardest.

Treating health care as a commodity rather than a public good is a disastrous policy for COVID-19 and in general. The insurance industry should not profit to the tune of $23.4 billion by working to deny their insured patients health care recommended by their doctors. No one should have to ration medication because they can’t afford it. No one should have to choose one medication over another because they can’t afford what they need to live.

And finally, study after study is showing that “Medicare for All” would be beneficial for our economy, and improve efficiencies and administrative costs for billing for health care providers. In a recent study from Yale researchers, they found the plan would save 69,000 lives annually, $219 billion in administrative savings, and improved access to primary care will mean less unnecessary hospitalizations and ER visits.

Weber Stibolt is a Columbia resident.

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