A simpler approach to health care

Aatif Mansoor, Channing James and Jenny Zhang, University of Minnesota Medical School students

We are medical students who have devoted eight years of our lives to educating and training ourselves, along with three to seven more years of training left for our chosen specialty.

We don’t put ourselves through all of that because we have a penchant for staying in school, purchasing expensive textbooks and accruing student loans — we do it so we will be able to properly take care of our future patients.

During the application process, we are all asked to write a personal statement about why we want to go medical school. I would wager that 100 percent of the responses from my classmates and from across the nation included some verbiage that referred to wanting to help people.

But as we have learned more and more about the system in place to take care of people in this country, we have become more concerned.

Yes, the Affordable Care Act has gotten more Americans insurance coverage — but what kind of coverage? Increasingly, ultra-high deductibles and copays are making patients reluctant to seek care when they need it — and vulnerable to financial ruin when they do.

America spends plenty on health care — twice per capita as other industrialized nations — but with staggering inefficiency. Administrative overhead devours 31 percent of our health spending.

It’s our health insurance premiums that pay for those catchy health-maintenance organization commercials, ads that cover an entire light-rail car, marketing departments, underwriters, lobbyists, eight-figure insurance executive salaries and handsome investor profits. None of this has helped us take care of our patients.

What if we redirected those wasted health care dollars into actual health care, while ensuring that all citizens have access to quality care?

This is the case for single-payer health reform.