FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
H. Bruce Franklin
August 12-22, 1945: Washington Starts the Korean and Vietnam Wars
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time
David Yearsley
Bringing Landscapes to Life: the Music of Johann Christian Bach
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail