Single Payer Healthcare

If you clicked on this link to show support for Single Payer Healthcare in Massachusetts, there are many things you can do:

Contact your legislators
Get involved with an activist group
Tell us your personal story about healthcare:

  • Your experience with the healthcare system in Massachusetts  (positive and negative ones are welcome)
  • Your hopes for the future of healthcare
  • An experience with healthcare in a different state or country, and how it compares with Massachusetts


“Yo siempre estaré con los que no tienen nada y hasta la tranquilidad de la nada se les niega.”
— Federico García Lorca
(I will always be on the side of those who have nothing, and who are not even allowed to enjoy the nothing they have)

One Response to Single Payer Healthcare

  1. chuttlinger says:

    Here are some of the comments I received with personal information withiheld:

    New Comment:
    I saw your request on Hidden-Tech for comments, so here goes: My wife recently got a job that came with health insurance, one of the main reasons she took the job. Before that, I spent about 10 years paying for our insurance as a self-employed person. The last five years of that, we had switched to a high-deductible plan to try to escape the high annual increases (10-30% each year!). The last few years, we were spending $12,000 per year for the high-deductible family plan despite the fact that all our expenses were paid out of pocket. We hit the deductible only one year, the rest was just sending money to the insurance company with nothing coming back.

    Well, that’s not completely true, as we did get a glimpse of the way the system works, and the insurance company plays a major role. After a test or doctors visit, we’d get a statement from the insurance company (HNE) telling us how much the doctor had billed, and then how much the insurance company thought the cost should be. Then we’d get a bill from the doctor charging us the HNE price. The difference was drastic. A doctor might bill the insurance company $300 for a test, then HNE would say “nope, how about $150”, and then the doctor would send us a bill for that amount. So even though HNE never paid anything, they acted as our agent and negotiator, reducing the bill that we paid directly to the doctor. This all begs the question: Why can’t we know the cost of things up front, and why can there be one price for a service?

    The whole idea that we can apply a competitive free-market model to health care is absurd. When I buy a TV, I know what I need, and am happy to let manufacturers and stores compete as I shop around. When I need health care, I usually need it now, and doctors can’t even tell me what costs will be in any event. No time to compare even if the information were available. Shopping for health insurance makes no sense either, because I have no idea what services we’ll need in the future, and so no way to compare plans effectively.

    Here’s a little anecdote: My wife had crippling abdominal pains a few years back. She tried to tough it out, but it got worse and was consistent with appendicitis symptoms. She went to the emergency room in the evening. I had to stay home to put the kids to bed, but was in contact with her via phone. They did some minor tests, gave her some pain killers. Then they wanted to give her a cat scan. So at that point, when she’s supposed to be a discerning, responsible consumer, how do we evaluate that option? She’s hopped up on pain medication, doctors are telling her she needs a cat scan to see if she has to have immediate surgery, they can’t tell us how much the cat scan costs because a) they don’t know how much the hospital charges, and b) even if they did, they have no idea how much HNE would reduce that price. No way to get HNE to tell us on a Sunday night, and that type of estimate apparently takes a lot of back-and-forth involving procedure codes and work-up of a “model”. So of course she went for the cat scan, and it cost us thousands of dollars out of pocket. No appendicitis, pain went away on it’s own. To cap it all off, she’d had something going on with an ovary a few months before that was also consistent with her symptoms, but the emergency room people didn’t have that information even though the OB/Gyn is right across the street. All a waste of time and money.

    I have other rants, if you want to hear them, and you’re welcome to contact me. I’ll tell you about the several moving parts (chamber of commerce, small business association, health insurance company, doctor, health savings account) involved in my coverage. Or the time we were charged for a service that wasn’t performed at a doctor we never visited. Or how I was signed up for a health savings account without my knowledge. Even now that we have a plan with copays, etc. through my wife’s work, I still feel dirty when we use it, knowing how messed up the behind-the-scenes machinations are.

    New comment:
    Submitted on 2013/05/25 at 4:00 pm
    My husband and I are both self-employed. I’m in my early sixties and he’s in his late fifties. Almost every year we switch insurance looking for some kind of plan that won’t consume more than 20% of our after-tax income. Last year we had Fallon. It was a bit under $1000 a month, so it seemed like a good deal, but they nickel-and-dimed us to death. A number of times we had to challenge them about turning down lab tests necessary to monitor medication levels, for example. We’re both in fairly good health, but we both have chronic conditions easily controlled by medication. So now we’re on Health New England, which is about $40 more per month, but at least we know we’ll get the benefits we’re entitled to. So $1038 a month for 2 basically healthy adults whose combined after-tax income is between $60,000 and $70,000 a year. Quite a chunk! And that doesn’t include what we pay for our 2 young-adult kids who don’t have jobs that pay benefits. And it doesn’t include chiropractic care, which I need. So bring on single payer! It couldn’t possibly cost us more than we’re paying now.

    I am a member of the MASS Health system. They have proven to provide top notch medical care with a level of customer service and respect for the individual that exceeds most private organizations.

    Submitted on 2013/05/25 at 11:31 am
    We are aging, self-employed consultants and so far remain relatively healthy.
    We have a high-deductible ($10k) policy and an HSA. The policy costs almost $1000/month for two people. The coverage pays for some services but it totals about 10% of the annual $12,000 yearly premium cost. Worst case, if we got very ill and used up the deductible, we’d have to pay out a total $22,000 a year before we’d benefit from any significant coverage. That’s nearly half of our annual income so we’d be under water very quickly, especially if we couldn’t work.
    As far as we know, this is the CHEAPEST insurance available to us (through Mass Business Association)!

    Submitted on 2013/05/25 at 10:55 am
    1) Healthcare should be divorced from employment (everyone should buy it directly, and therefore *keep* it indefinitely).
    2) Insurance should be *insurance*, for catastrophic events only. Normal everyday healthcare should be purchased directly from healthcare providers for cash.
    3) To support people too poor to afford healthcare, the state could give them cash support to allow them to buy both catastrophic insurance and everyday heathcare. Yes, they might not choose to spend this money on healthcare, but that would be their choice.

    Hi Claire,
    I’m single and have been lucky to have had insurance through employment. But I was laid off from MassMutual in 2009, relied on COBRA for a year and then Hasbro. That was 2+ years ago…

    I have had a horrible experience for the last few years with Mass’s health care system – I have folders of correspondence. The worst of it was when my unemployment benefits abruptly ended in Sept 2012 when state and fed extentions were eliminated. I had figured I would be getting benefits until Jan.2013. COBRA had ended and I had gone with Commonwealth Choice, which was mostly paid by MPS. When my benefits ended, I got a letter saying MPS is not available because I no longer received unemployment benefits. So all of a sudden I was not receiving monthly $1200 in benefits and $380 in MPS.

    It was suggested I apply for MassHealth which started 4 months of aggravation. Numerous times I received notice that I was missing this, or that form/information, of course with more than 30 days each time. I get a final rejection with multiple reasons listed but not checked. and I finally get someone on the phone who says I don’t qualify because I have a small business (graphic designer, $8,000 yr). Only after 3 months of faxing and mailing I’m told I need to apply for Commonwealth Care which has several levels – and I’m now qualified for a tier that I do not have to pay. (I chose BMC Healthnet, and it has been a very positive experience.)

    So I paid $1800 (4 months $450) which I did not have to pay if there was clear communication of Masshealth vs CommonwealthChoice vs CommonwealthCare. I’m now putting my house on the market because I find it difficult to make $1400/month mortgage payments. I have maxed out credit cards and my equity line. I still have good credit, which means my mortgage company won’t help until I miss 3 payments and of course a refinance is impossible because I don’t have a full time job. It has been 2+ years since working as copywriter/proofreader at Hasbro. (They moved their creative depts. from E. Longmeadow to corporate headquarters in Rhode Island. I was a contract/hire and let go since there was job duplication, others were also downsized out.) I’m still interviewing, but jobs are hard to find – especially at age 61. Freelance jobs are few and far between.

    So I’m getting my house ready to sell along with family heirlooms/antiques. It’s not a good market to sell antiques and there’s not enough equity left in my house to purchase a condo, so I will be looking for an apartment… if my house sells.

    Back to Mass’ health care, I had another headache a few years ago when I had Aetna. In December 2011, I get a letter from Aetna that the health insurance I had with them all year did not meet Mass’ health requirement. Since I would be penalized by Mass, they agree to reimburse the penalty. At tax time, it’s a $600 penalty and when I tried getting reimbursed, no one at Aetna knew anything about it – at any department all over the country – was sent from one department to the next. I finally found someone who agreed to look into it. Meanwhile I had one supervisor complain, “we already have a file open on you and to stop calling and making us do more work.”

    Claire, I wasn’t going to answer your email because I want to put it all in the past. But I might as well go through it again – since I need to throw out the clutter to make way for moving.

    Hi (same commenter as above)
    My mortgage payments are high ($1,400) and to add on $500 / month health insurance, especially when I qualified for assistance, it is overwhelming.

    I consider myself an intelligent person, and I found the system confusing. When I chose Commonwealth Choice, Neighborhood Health, I then realized my primary care physician was not included – none of the Baystate drs who I had for 15 years. All kinds of surprises!


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