Las Vegas Sun

May 10, 2021

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GUEST COLUMN:

Public health insurance option would strengthen Nevada

Why do we not have enough doctors in Nevada? I can tell you from experience that part of the issue is a lack of adequately insured patients.

Without enough patients who have health care insurance, or insurance that sufficiently covers specialists, those specialists move to other states where they can have thriving medical practices. This leads to a vicious cycle for patients and doctors, where appointments with the few doctors who remain are impossible to come by, on top of being expensive. This leads more patients to go without critical care and more doctors to consider leaving. I have seen this happen.

And that’s why, as a physician, I strongly believe that the time has come to expand health care access with a Nevada Public Option.

I urge policymakers to fix our broken health care status quo, because business as usual is putting people at risk.

Health care is simply too expensive. Premiums go up every year. Prescription drug costs keep going through the roof. Insurance and drug corporations continue to profit even as the people they’re supposed to serve — people like my patients — struggle to afford basic care.

And this self-destructive cycle is how having fewer patients diminishes the pool of health care providers, which undermines the infrastructure of health care in the form of fewer clinics, fewer rural hospitals, fewer basic services for underserved and underrepresented populations, and in the case of Nevada, lowest-in-the-nation investments in public health.

The Nevada Public Option would help keep premiums affordable by requiring prices to be less than the year before. Additionally, it would require health plans to reimburse hospitals and health providers adequately, which is necessary to close health equity gaps between rural and populated service areas, and between wealthier and low-income patients.

By helping every Nevadan find a health care home, a public option can help more people manage chronic conditions, get treatment when they need it and ultimately live longer and more fulfilling lives. This will generate demand for health services, leading to greater investments in health care — not just the physical infrastructure but the human resources essential to improving health: doctors, nurses, registered dietitians, physical therapists and more.

More people with affordable health care means people have more options to determine how best to live their lives and to achieve their goals. They can fix a broken arm without worrying about whether they can pay for groceries. They can manage diabetes, heart disease or a behavioral illness through specialized care and treatment, which can help them stay on the job, care for their families and become productive contributors to society. 

The Nevada Public Option is the investment we can make to stop our health care nosedive and rebuild a cycle of health and wellness that can lead to a stronger future for Nevada.

Dr. Harpreet Tsui is a physician in Henderson.