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U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence participate in a coronavirus briefing with health insurers in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, on March 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence participate in a coronavirus briefing with health insurers in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, on March 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As Insurance Executives Waive Copays for Coronavirus, This Reminder: Medicare for All Would Eliminate All Copays Forever

"Almost 1 in 3 Americans—more than 100 million people—have deficient health coverage, with copays and deductibles that effectively prevent them from seeking or receiving needed care in a timely manner."

Jon Queally

After the Trump administration on Tuesday touted that executives from some of the nation's major private insurance companies are now waiving copays for their customers who need testing for the coronavirus, advocates of Medicare for All took the opportunity to note that under a universal, single-payer system like Medicare for All copays for any medically necessary service or care would be a thing of the past entirely.

During a White House meeting between President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, members of the Coronavirus Task Force, and executives from various industries, Pence treated the announcement as a major achievement.

"I'm pleased to report that as you requested, Mr. President, that all the insurance companies here, either today, or before today, have agreed to waive all copays on coronavirus testing, and extend coverage for coronavirus treatment in all of their benefit plans," Pence said.

According to the White House, executives from UnitedHealth Group, Anthem, Cigna, Humana, Aetna and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association were all in attendance.

For Medicare for All advocates like Dr. Adam Gaffney, president of Physician for National Health Program (PNHP), the move by the insurance industry—while obviously a positive step in the midst of a deadly outbreak—only highlights the pernicious reality of the for-profit health system in the United States that leaves tens of millions at the mercy of the whims of their insurance company and the precariousness of their financial situation.

"Almost 1 in 3 Americans—more than 100 million people—have deficient health coverage, with copays and deductibles that effectively prevent them from seeking or receiving needed care in a timely manner," Gaffney told Common Dreams.

"Multiple studies of patients with high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis show that cost-sharing deters the use of needed medications and care and, in many instances, causes demonstrable clinical harm," he added. "Such large scale inadequacies in insurance coverage will make America's response to a viral respiratory epidemic all that more difficult."

As numerous medical professionals, public health experts, and progressive activists have long argued, Gaffney agrees that only a single-payer solution will solve the nation's healthcare woes—not just during the current outbreak of COVID-19, but far beyond.

"Only Medicare for All would eliminate financial barriers to care and ensure that everyone in America can get the care they need, when they need it," he said.


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