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Is Single Payer Right For America?

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Many people support a single-payer health care system because they believe it would cover more people at a lower cost. But it is important to consider the tradeoffs to care, access, and wait times that come with single payer. Expanding coverage to more people is expensive, and high costs mean the government has no choice but to reduce access to certain drugs, procedures, and doctors.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is an alternative to the single-payer model?
  2. Why do European nations maintain the single-payer system if it has fundamental problems?
  3. What kind of healthcare system would you want to implement and why?

Additional Reading

View Transcript

Many people think our country should move to a single-payer system of healthcare.

This basically means the government pays for all care by raising taxes.

Advocates of a single- payer system believe it would cover more people at a lower cost.

But there’s a fundamental problem with the single-payer model.

To expand coverage to more people, the government has no choice but to reduce access to certain drugs, procedures, and doctors that we now enjoy.

We can learn from the experience of the single payer model in the UK, Sweden, and elsewhere in Europe.

The wait times for diagnostic procedures, doctor appointments, chemotherapy, and surgery are so long that their governments have turned to private care--sometimes even private care in other countries.

And then there’s the issue of health outcomes.

Because of the long wait times to receive treatment and restricted access to specialists, medications, and medical technology, health outcomes in single payer systems are worse than the US for almost all serious diseases, like cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

In practice, the “better bargaining power” of a single payer system usually means price controls and regulations that cause shortages and prevent people from getting the care they need in a timely fashion.

So while our healthcare system does need to change... a single-payer system isn’t the solution.