FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Single Payer is the Only Hope: How the Health Insurance Industry is Devouring the Economy

Mingling among the doctors, nurses and activists at the single payer conferences in Chicago this weekend was one Richard Master.

Master is the owner and CEO of MCS Industries Inc., the nation’s leading supplier of wall and poster frames — a $200 million a year company based in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Master has just produced a movie — Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point.

And he was in Chicago to show it to the single payer advocates gathered there attending two conferences — Physicians for a National Health Program annual meeting and the Single Payer Strategy Conference put on by nurses and other labor unions.

In a way, Master was a fish out of water — a businessman among activists.

But he had reached the same conclusion.

“My company now pays $1.5 million a year to provide access to healthcare for our workers and their dependents,” Master said. “When I investigated where all the money goes, I was shocked.”

What he found was that fully 33 cents of every health care premium dollar “has nothing to do with the delivery of healthcare.” Thirty-three percent of the healthcare budget was being spent on administrative costs.

That’s why he reached out to a couple of award winning filmmakers to produce Fix It — which makes the corporate case for scrapping the current multi-payer system for a single payer.

“I view the healthcare system as an existential threat to the economy of this country,” Master told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. “I think of this painting by Goya — Saturn Devouring His Son. The healthcare system is essentially devouring the rest of the economy whole.”

The movie features interviews with some of the nation’s leading health care experts, including Don Berwick, the former head of Medicare, and Ted Marmor, a professor of public policy at Yale.

“I came to realize that insurers comprise a completely unnecessary middleman that not only adds little if any value to our healthcare system, it adds enormous costs to it,” Master said.

“As a result of this waste and inefficiency, our total spending on health care soared above $3 trillion in 2014. More than 17 percent of our national GDP is now eaten up by health care costs, far more than any other country.”

The United States spends fully 30 percent to 35 percent of the healthcare budget on administration — that’s $1 trillion out of the $3 trillion heathcare budget on administration.

The Fix It movie makers visit Taiwan, which switched to a single payer system in 1995 — and found that just 1.6 percent of its total operating health care budget is spent on administration.

Master spent time in Canada, visiting doctors and nurses and conservative business executives, including Dann Konkin, president of a Canadian industrial screen printing company in British Columbia.

“I’m a member of the Conservative Party of Canada,” Konkin said. “We stand for removing waste, being more efficient and finding ways to grow our businesses. And one of the greatest ways that we can grow our business is to reduce costs, and that’s why we embrace the Canadian healthcare system. What I don’t understand is why my fellow conservatives in the United States tend to fight this.”

Konkin said that he decided against opening a facility in the United States after finding out how much he would have to pay to provide health insurance for his American workforce.

“If I had to increase my costs by over a million dollars in my company because of insurance coverage costs, that alone would probably drive me to bankruptcy,” Konkin said.

The movie recounts that several years ago, Michael Grimaldi, then president of General Motors of Canada told reporters that the Canadian healthcare system “significantly reduces total labor costs for automobile manufacturing firms.”

Back home, David Steil, a fellow Pennsylvania business owner and former Republican member of the state legislature for 16 years, told Master that “conservatives should be supportive of single payer because it costs less.”

“When they look at a single payer model, they will come quickly to the conclusion that it is the least expensive, the most supportive of a free market, and will have the most direct effect on the costs of their operation.”

Master is showing the movie to fellow businessmen and he says it’s having an impact.

“It is time we realize we don’t have to tolerate a system — a $3 trillion system — in which one of three dollars is wasted,” Master said. “A system in which just a few sick employees can take down a company. A system that starves the rest of our economy to the point that we don’t have enough money for our schools and roads. We can’t afford to wait any longer.”

[For the complete q/a format  Interview with Richard Master, see 29 Corporate Crime Reporter 43(13), November 9, 2015, print edition only.]

More articles by:

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
Domenica Ghanem
Is Bush’s Legacy Really Much Different Than Trump’s?
Peter Certo
Let Us Argue Over Dead Presidents
Christopher Brauchli
Concentration Camps From Here to China
ANIS SHIVANI
The Progress of Fascism Over the Last Twenty Years
Steve Klinger
A Requiem for Donald Trump
Al Ronzoni
New Deals, From FDR’s to the Greens’
Gerald Scorse
America’s Rigged Tax Collection System
Louis Proyect
Praying the Gay Away
Rev. Theodore H. Lockhart
A Homily: the Lord Has a Controversy With His People?
David Yearsley
Bush Obsequies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail