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Medicare for All Means Real Choice: One Health Card, Good Anywhere You Go

You can go to any doctor, any hospital or clinic or other provider you prefer. All networks are gone. So are all surprise medical bills. So are all out of network charges. So are all premiums, all deductibles, all co-pays for such basics as emergency care, doctor's visits, mental health, dental, vision, long term care, and so much more.

"Imagine that," writes Castillo. "Under Medicare for all, real choice, guaranteed care." (Photo: Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

A new survey out this week is an important step forward to demolishing one of the principle talking points against Medicare for All.

No doubt, you've heard this one: "People love their insurance! Under Medicare for All, you'll lose your private insurance and your doctor." Uh, no.

A Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted after the first Democratic presidential primary debates found that when people hear the real story—that under Medicare for All you can keep your preferred doctors and hospitals, support climbs to a clear majority of 55 percent. Support among Democrats gets to 78 percent.

Even if you go to a provider that is "in your network," you may still get hammered with a surprise medical bill by a physician, or other provider on call that night at the hospital, or lab or supplier the hospital generally uses who is "out of network." That's not choice, it's robbery.

For independents it's a big leap of 14 points, up to 56 percent support. That support eclipses the disinformation peddled by the health care industry, their lobbyists, their mouthpieces in Congress—and too many in the media—that if you lose your private insurance you will lose your preferred doctor or other provider.

The inconvenient truth for the lobbyists and their cheerleaders is that Medicare for All offers real choice, not the illusion of choice under the profit-focused insurance system. Medicare for All means one health card, good anywhere. You can go to any doctor, any hospital or clinic or other provider you prefer.

That, of course, is the opposite of how the present, market-based, insurance system works.

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Nearly all private insurance corporations restrict choice by forcing you into a narrow network, with a limited set of doctors and hospitals that are part of their network, usually dictated by a medical group that contracts with the insurer. Many insurance companies actually re-negotiate with the medical group every year, meaning you get handed a new network and can overnight lose that trusted doctor, the specialists you count on, and which hospitals are in your narrow network.

It gets worse. If you "choose" to go outside the network, to a provider you liked before, or one closer to home, the insurance company slams you with a huge additional charge, or you get rejected when you walk in the door.

Nurses see the damage every day. Our patients denied care, making painful choices of whether to get the care they need, or facing catastrophe with astronomical hospital bills.

Further, even if you go to a provider that is "in your network," you may still get hammered with a surprise medical bill by a physician, or other provider on call that night at the hospital, or lab or supplier the hospital generally uses who is "out of network." That's not choice, it's robbery, and generally you don’t know you were "out of network" until the bill comes. Check out why so many people are starting GoFundMe accounts to pay for medical bills when they thought they were "in network."

Under Medicare for All, the two actual bills, H.R. 1384 in the House and S. 1129 in the Senate, narrow networks are gone. All networks are gone. So are all surprise medical bills. So are all out of network charges. So are all premiums, all deductibles, all co-pays for such basics as emergency care, doctor's visits, mental health, dental, vision, long term care, and so much more.

Nurses see the damage every day. Our patients denied care, making painful choices of whether to get the care they need, or facing catastrophe with astronomical hospital bills.

Imagine that. Under Medicare for all, real choice, guaranteed care. No wonder the desperate lobbyists and all their gang are so desperate to hide the truth.

Bonnie Castillo

Bonnie Castillo

Bonnie Castillo, RN is the executive director of National Nurses United. Follow her on Twitter: @NNUBonnie

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