A single-payer health-care system, along with optional private insurance, is a cost effective, less complex way to provide quality health care.

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WHY doesn’t the most powerful nation on earth provide its citizens responsible health care and an effective payment system?

In 1982, I worked in a large urban hospital emergency room, and the recession had caused many workers to be laid off. During one shift, a man arrived with a serious illness. Because he lost his health insurance when laid off, he had not gone to the doctor, which, if he had, his illness might have been easily managed. Now he was facing a painful, expensive surgery.

I remember thinking, “Our health care system is broken!” That was 35 years ago, and it’s many times worse today.

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For 28 years, I also worked for a travel emergency medical service working with providers and insurances worldwide. Even in developing nations, with a fraction of the U.S. wealth, many provided acceptable care, at much less cost.

It used to be that the U.S. had substantially better health care, but through decades of improvements in global medical education, the standard of care in many developing nations rose substantially, all while the costs of care Americans believe superior skyrocketed.

Of course, cutting edge care in our urban medical centers is almost science fiction — but the inequity in health care, not just between rich and poor but between rural and urban, is appalling.

Last year, I returned to the U.S. after living in Australia, which has a single-payer health-care system. The myths conservatives and self-interest groups spin about such systems is wrong. The quality of health professionals is on a par with the United States: appointments scheduled easily, care provided quickly, with a high degree of competence and costing substantially less.

I never had to wait, and the system worked efficiently compared to our excessive administration and higher costs due to profit motives, and the complexity of our system with too many providers, insurers and payment companies.

A single payer system, along with optional private insurance, is a cost effective, less complex way to provide health care. But we don’t have that because of the immense corporate pressures on our beholden, biased (and often uninformed) politicians.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), while flawed, was a huge improvement, sparing millions the fate of that laid-off worker in my ER back in 1982.

In December, I had a surprisingly excellent experience enrolling my wife in Washington’s ACA iInsurance exchange — she got a good plan at an affordable price. Now I’m worried she will lose coverage or be forced into a costly plan with a gigantic deductible should the Republicans try a second time to dismantle the ACA and replace it with something far worse.

Some societal obligations do better under government oversight than mainly market forces. It makes me sick when I hear the lies about “giving people more choice” in health care, or inadequate alternatives like “health savings accounts.” These are misleading statements meant to fool people into accepting higher-cost insurance (to support corporate interests).

We must raise our voices now to our elected leaders — especially Republicans — to abandon their insultingly titled “American Health Care Act” so that people do not lose coverage or pay substantially more for plans with giant deductibles that are useless for anything but catastrophic illness or injury.