With affordable care act about to be gutted I thought the below might be worthwhile reading. We are the only civilized country in the world that doesn’t have universal health care. Why not?
What is a single payer healthcare system?
In a single payer healthcare system, rather than multiple competing health insurance companies, a single public or quasi-public agency takes responsibility for financing healthcare for all residents. That is, everyone has health insurance under a one health insurance plan, and has access to necessary services — including doctors, hospitals, long-term care, prescription drugs, dentists and vision care. However, individuals may still choose where they receive care. It’s a lot like Medicare, hence the U.S. single payer nickname “Medicare-for-all.”
Proponents advocate that a single payer system would address several problems in the U.S. system. Universal health coverage would be a major step towards equality, especially for uninsured and underinsured Americans. Overall expenses and wasteful spending could be better controlled through cost control and lower administrative costs, as evidenced in other countries. Furthermore, a single payer system has more incentive to direct healthcare spending toward public health measures. For example, targeting funding towards childhood obesity prevention programs in elementary schools and daycares reduces the rates and complications of obesity more effectively and at lower costs than paying for doctor visits to recommend healthier diets and increased physical activity.
At the same time, we must also recognize the potential tradeoffs of transitioning to a single payer system. Lengthy wait times and restricted availability of certain healthcare services (such as elective surgery or cosmetic procedures) are important criticisms. Thus, despite its advantages, single payer will not ease the constant tension of balancing access, quality and cost in healthcare. However, Oberlander suggests these issues are much smaller in countries with single payer healthcare when compared to the current U.S. system.
The major obstacles to adopting Medicare-for-all are political, rather than actual practical problems within the single payer structure. Stakeholders who stand to lose — such as health insurers, organized medicine, and pharmaceutical companies — represent a powerful opposition lobby.