By Wendy Aronson, M.D., Lake Luzerne, Oct 4, 2018
The cost of health services incurred by 45 million uninsured Americans is estimated to be $99 billion. Who pays when someone with no insurance visits an emergency room needing the legally mandated “stabilization,” if not immediate admission? The answers include:
- The uninsured patient, spending a larger fraction of his income than his insured neighbor.
- Hospitals and doctors, providing care gratis or for reduced fees.
- Charities, whose funding comes ultimately from the public.
- Local and federal taxes collected from that same public.
This brings us to the question of single payer health care and the proposed New York Health Act already passed several times by the Assembly. While its Senate passage and implementation would certainly raise payroll and employer-paid taxes, perhaps by 150 percent (RAND,) the total New York expenditure on health care would not increase. New Yorkers would shift only where and how they pay. Millions of us would reap medical security.
Betty Little has been a state Senator for 15 years. As a North Country person, she knows that 12 percent of Warren County lives below the poverty line and 5 percent is uninsured. Nonetheless, she votes to keep the act locked in committee.