The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The coronavirus highlights Obamacare’s glaring shortcomings

A coronavirus testing site in Charleston, W.Va., on April 13. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Reading Neal Katyal’s vigorous defense of the Affordable Care Act, “An indefensible refusal to defend Obamacare” [op-ed, May 8], one gets the sinking feeling he is barking up the wrong tree. Defending the ACA is ultimately an exercise in futility because the ACA will not fix the two glaring problems besetting health insurance today: lack of universal coverage and affordability.

The ACA has the misfortune to be based on our current multiple-payer system of health insurance, in which for too many there is a massive disconnect between the need for health care and the ability to pay for it, and in which for about half of us, our health care is dependent on our job. The current novel coronavirus pandemic, with its massive job losses and economic disruptions, has only magnified these glaring defects.

It is clear we need health care that is both universal and affordable. The current system — and that includes the ACA, which was never meant to fix the structural problems of universal coverage and affordability inherent in our current system — will never get us there. I am retired family physician who practiced in Canada under a single-payer health insurance system and in Virginia under a multiple-payer system.

Let’s stop barking up the wrong tree and actually fix the problems by switching to a system that will: single-payer Medicare-for-all.

Jay D. Brock, Fredericksburg

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