DAWES, W.Va. -- The Affordable Care Act is an experiment that will fail, the head of an organization that advocates for a single-payer health system argued Thursday.
"People will not be able to afford the health insurance that they're being pushed to buy," Dr. Andrew Coates, president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), said during a visit to West Virginia on Thursday. "And when they do buy it, it won't be good enough to cover health-care calamity."
Under the ACA, health insurance premiums and deductibles will not be affordable, Coates argued.
"I think it's a big experiment to drive people to [the health insurance] marketplace but the health insurance marketplace hasn't worked for years now and I don't see any evidence that's going to change," he said.
Coates, an assistant professor of medicine and psychiatry at Albany Medical College, practices at a community hospital in upstate New York. During a visit to the Charleston area Thursday, he spoke to the staff at the Cabin Creek Health Center in Dawes.
Later on Thursday, Coates spoke about the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act at the University of Charleston, where he shared a platform with Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
Coates' visit was sponsored in part by the West Virginia chapter of PNHP.
"People say [a single-payer system] can't work here," said Dr. James Binder of the West Virginia chapter. "That's not true."
Instead of the Affordable Care Act, which would potentially expand Medicaid to millions of low-income Americans, Coates is campaigning for expanded Medicare for all Americans. That would include an expansion of what Medicare covers. For instance, dental care should be covered, he said.
Research shows that this would actually help provide comprehensive care to everybody and also reduce costs, Coates said.
He argues that by eliminating private insurance and using a single-payer model, the United States could save more than $400 billion a year used for paperwork.