While I sympathize with Alex Beam’s concern for the rising costs of health care and for the woes of overworked doctors in his Aug. 8 op-ed “The concierge shakedown,” he misses a critical point. Every other industrialized country in the world, except the United States, has established some form of universal access to health care and has well-documented lower costs and better health outcomes. If the United States is going to control costs and increase quality, not only do we need to take responsibility for our lifestyles, but we need to consider health care as a right rather than a commodity.
There are numerous models we could learn from, but the fundamental step is to move away from the marketplace — the obscene profits of the insurance companies and pharmaceutical industries, the glitzy ads as hospitals vie for our patronage — and agree as a nation that everyone, rich or poor, deserves good health care. It is possible to create a system — call it Medicare for all — where that is indeed possible without breaking our bank accounts. Concierge care for the few is not the answer.