Political Issues

Pros and Cons of Single Payer Health Care

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"Pros and Cons of Single Payer Health Care"
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One option to restructure our nation's health care system is one that has been utilized in many industrialized nations, but is not being considered in the United States: that is the single payer health system. It is one in which all citizens pay taxes for health care services provided by the government to every man, woman, and child. It is the system that has been employed in Canada, and most European countries; all of which have health care systems that are ranked higher by the World Health Organization than that in the United States. The single payer system has been advocated by the progressive part of the Democratic Party, while being decried as "socialism" by conservative Republicans. As with any type of planned organization, the single payer plan has its pros and cons.

There are six "pros" to adopting a single payer system. First of all, there is guaranteed health care for all citizens regardless of social or economic status. Second, physicians will be free to practice medicine without having to submit complex billing statements that require a staff of office personnel. Third, physicians may actually be rewarded for providing preventative care. In Great Britain, for example, physicians actually receive bonuses for succeeding in getting their patients to quit smoking or lose weight! Fourth, the cost of providing care will be substantially reduced because there would be no profit motive. Corporate executives would not exist who would otherwise draw massive salaries and bonuses, or concern themselves with maximizing profits for shareholders. Fifth, no citizen would be denied health care because of pre-existing medical conditions, nor worry about reaching a cap on insurance coverage. Sixth, there would be no insurance premiums. The increase in taxes would be significantly lower for those who are paying for costly health insurance, which currently runs over twelve thousand dollars a year per family.

Now for the "cons" to the single payer system. First, critics of the single payer system bring the increased government bureaucracy needed to administer this program. If this plan is just an expansion of Medicare to cover those under the age of sixty-five, then the system is already in place. Second, physicians would be salaried government employees. According to the British physician interviewed by Michael Moore in the movie "Sicko", that would be catastrophic. You see, he ONLY earned just under two hundred thousand dollars a year, and lived with his wife and children in a million dollar home. He didn't have to worry about billing patients, and even received bonuses for achieving successful outcomes, as enabling a patient to quit smoking. (Maybe this isn't much of a con, after all!). Finally, according to ultra-conservative commentators as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, single-payer health care is evil and against everything America stands for, because it is socialized medicine; as if it will lead our nation into becoming a communist dictatorship!

There seems to be many pros to single payer health care. The biggest con, however, is trying to associate it with a term many people don't even seem to understand: socialism. If health care isn't to be considered as a right, and only for those who can afford it, then the notion of health care for all citizens would be a repulsive thought. If that is socialism, then our society really does have a problem!


More about this author: Leslie Schwab