Breaking down single-payer health care


Health care in the United States is going through a political reckoning, with lots of ideas on how to reform or completely change the way people get and pay for health insurance. Many on the right want to move toward a more privately run system, with less insurance requirements on individuals, health insurance companies and employers, and less government subsidies and funding. House Speaker Paul Ryan: We want all the providers of health care services – insurers, doctors, hospitals, everyone, competing against each other for our business as patients. As consumers. But Republicans are splintered on just how to roll back the government’s role in individuals’ health care – something that came to a head when four different plans failed to pass the Senate in July. The left, on the other hand, wants to boost those public government programs and coverage requirements to give more Americans health insurance. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer: Democrats believe that health care is a right for all. One of their buzziest ideas is single-payer health care, where the government is the single payer that pays for Americans’ health insurance through a tax funded plan. Single-payer is a type of universal health coverage. That’s where the government ensures that every citizen has health insurance. There are lots of ways for governments to implement universal health coverage – at least 30 countries have some form of it The way our system works right now, there are a good deal of Americans who don’t have health insurance. In 2016, about 28 million, roughly 9% of the population, were uninsured and those who are insured have to work with a web of private insurance companies, employers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and government-funded programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Single-payer would funnel all of those negotiations into one channel, where the government determines a baseline of health benefits that it will fund for everyone and sets or negotiates the price for those benefits. Just like there are many ways to get to universal health coverage, there are also multiple ways to implement a single-payer health care system. Bernie Sanders and some Democrats are backing a “Medicare for All” proposal. This would expand Medicare, which currently pays for certain health services for Americans over 65 and those with disabilities, to all Americans. Polling shows that a majority of Americans believe that it’s the government’s responsibility to provide health care coverage and a growing share of Americans support single-payer health care. Those in favor of “Medicare for All” say that the plan with lower prices for health care services and medicine across the board. Americans pay double what many countries with universal health coverage do on health costs and many say that those costs would be lower if the government could bargain down or set prices. Conservatives are largely against Medicare for all because it would shift more costs and responsibilities to the government and away from the private market, thus requiring more tax dollars to implement. Ryan: Get Washington out of the business of being a nanny state. They contend that it would take away individual choice in health coverage Sen. John Barrasso: This complete government takeover of health care although liberals who support the plan argue the exact opposite. Sen. Bernie Sanders: The choice they made is they want to get quality health care And many moderates say that the transition to a single-payer system would be tricky, and could upend health insurance coverage if done too rapidly. But with public perception warming up to single-payer, and more and more Democrats jumping onboard, we could see more of these proposals in the run-up to big elections in 2018 and 2020.

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