Single-payer system

not a radical choice

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Misleading and incorrect information about the so-called “facts” of single-payer health care systems requires clarification. Although single-payer systems in other countries do expand access to health care for many as well as reduce the overall cost, we continue to see and hear ads incorrectly claiming dire results from a change to this form of reimbursement for our health care.

Claim No. 1 is that single-payer systems provide inefficient and substandard health care. This is a bogus claim since these single-payer plans in other countries don’t provide any services and only “foot the bill” while the actual health care products, drugs and services are obtained from multiple sources (as with our Medicare).

Claim No. 2, that a single-payer model will lead to an unacceptable increase in our personal taxes, is a major distortion. Shifting from wage deductions for higher-cost private insurance to taxation for a single-payer system could lead to lower costs and more savings for individuals. The major reason for lower costs is the ability of a single-payer system to provide control over the flagrant overcharging that now occurs in our multiple-payer system, in which the payers have no “leverage “ when it comes to cost control.

Supporting this is a 2016 report from the American Medical Association, which notes that 10 other high-income nations — all with single-payer health systems — spent half as much of their GNP on health care than the U.S.; their administrative costs of providing the care were lower (1.3% vs. 8%); and all performed better than we did in patient outcomes. The increase in government taxation required by shifting to a single-payer model is more than offset by a shift of actual earnings back to paychecks.

Bottom line: A single-payer health care system has been shown to improve access for all citizens while bringing the charges for health care into line with the actual cost of providing that care in a way not achieved here in the U.S., and is a logical — rather than “radical” — choice as incorrectly described by some.

Walter Lawrence Jr.


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