Everyone actively involved in the health care debate knows that Medicare is a government run, single payer health insurance program. Unfortunately, this fact is not stated often enough. It is a long standing joke that an old woman told a senator, “keep the government's hands off my Medicare,” but I think it does speak to a great ignorance in our country. I think allowing the myth to persist has been a big failing of the Democratic Party.
I have not seen, but would love to see, some public polling to find out how many Americans actually don't know that Medicare is government run health insurance. I think the number would be surprisingly high. It is painful to watch people on Medicare scream about the government takeover of health care. The government took over their health insurance years ago.
I partly blame the media for not vigorously stating that Medicare is government run single payer health insurance. They should be asking anyone who warns of a “government takeover” if they then want to repeal the government run Medicare program.
But, I mostly blame the Democratic party for not getting the message out. The government run single payer program called Medicare is one of the party's greatest achievements and one of the most popular government programs. The Democrats should be singing its praises, not tip-toeing around it.
Government run Medicare doesn't just provide peace of mind to millions of seniors. It has also consistently outperforms the private insurance companies. Government run Medicare (and the government run Veterans Health Administration) have higher customer satisfaction than private insurance. Government run single payer Medicare has done a much better job at controlling the spiraling increase in premiums than private insurance. When government run Medicare competes head to head with private health insurance (Medicare Advantage) government run Medicare in almost all cases was cheaper. Medicare is proof the government can do a better job of providing health insurance.
For too long the Democrats allowed “free market” Republicans to convince Americans that the government can't do anything right. Some Americans so strongly believe this idea that they assume something as popular as Medicare can't be run by the federal government.
The Democrats need to state clearly and often that Medicare is government run single payer health insurance. They should extol the benefits of the government run Medicare program at every town hall meeting and TV appearance.
The American people will not trust the federal government to be more involved in health insurance unless they are shown proof that the government can do the job well. Government run Medicare is the proof that Democrats should offer to skeptical voters. The government was given complete control of a large part of the health insurance market and has done a good job with it for decades.
*I state 14 times in this article that Medicare is government run.