Medicare For All would be the best option — but in its absence, we could start with phone calls to nurses.
When I worked in healthcare software for some of the largest health systems in the country I learned that the problem with healthcare in the US is not cost and quality, it is access. Plain and simple. People can’t access healthcare knowledge.
I’m in favor of Medicare for All, but I’m afraid that politically it is a hard sell when so much of the country is willing to vote for an authoritarian blowhard for president. So what if instead of a pitched battle for healthcare, we won a small, but meaningful skirmish? Here’s the idea.
National Nurse Hotline
Every insurance company and health system has a nurse hotline. You dial the number on the back of your insurance card, a trained healthcare provider picks up and asks you for your insurance information. Then you explain the problem your having and they can tell you if you need to go to the emergency room, an urgent care, or just take an Aspirin.
So say you don’t have insurance? Well, none of those things happen, so instead you either cross your fingers, or you go to the ER. Both of those options are actually MORE costly for society than just getting a bit of help. That’s why every insurance company in the country has their hotline. To cut costs.
So what if Medicare had a hotline for anyone with a Social Security Number?
You’re feeling ill and don’t know what to do. You call the hotline and give them your social security number. The nurse gives you the help you need and bills for a Medicare phone visit. At the end of the call the nurse could even connect you to someone who can help enroll you in health insurance.
By providing access to a brief phone call or even text message based health provider, we could increase access and dramatically reduce the costs of having a population of under- and uninsured people in the US.
Keep fighting for Medicare for All, but let’s also think about the small, impactful wins that both sides of the aisle can come together on.