Single-Payer Health Care For the Win?

| 4/19/2012 2:09:20 PM

Tags: single-payer health care, Yes! Magazine, Sarah van Gelder, The American Prospect, Arnold Relman, Dollars & Sense, Gerald Friedman, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Suzanne Lindgren,

obama signing health care crop 

It’s been awhile since Obama’s proposal for universal health care was replaced by a compromise known as the Affordable Care Act. Despite detractors from the right and left, Obamacare’s sell–that the Act would give millions of uninsured Americans coverage–appeased many. But now, as we wait to hear the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, some have begun to whisper of a second chance for a single-payer system.

If the Supreme Court declares the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional, single-payer will almost certainly be back on the table, writes Yes! Magazine’s Sarah van Gelder (citing Labor Secretary Robert Reich and columnist Rick Ungar of Forbes Magazine). Van Gelder argues that single-payer is what Americans want. “In poll after poll, a majority of Americans have expressed support for single-payer health care or national health insurance.”

This may be the chance to get it, but proponents will have to make their voices heard. “[I]t would be a long and difficult process,” reasons Arnold Relman in The American Prospect, “that would be bitterly opposed by the private insurance industry and its friends […] Nevertheless, there are reasons I believe this transformation has at least a chance of becoming reality.” With an informed, engaged public and strong support from doctors, Relman writes, single-payer advocates stand a fighting chance to win the attention of legislators and outweigh the influence of lobbyists.

The stakes may be higher than ever, since a single-payer system would save Americans $570 billion, reports economist Gerald Friedman in Dollars & Sense. Though a single-payer system "would raise some costs by providing access to care for those currently uninsured or under-insured, it would save much larger sums by eliminating insurance middlemen and radically simplifying payment to doctors and hospitals. While providing superior health care, a single-payer system would save as much as $570 billion now wasted on administrative overhead and monopoly profits.” In the midst of a recession, with great need to invest in renewable energy sources, education, sustainable transportation, and local food systems, Americans may have a chance to do more with their money than line the pockets of insurance company shareholders.

Image by Keith Ellison, licensed under Creative Commons. 

7/14/2014 9:19:08 AM

I saw this news when I was interned at the hospital, my son works as a medic and he sustains the single-payer system because the Affordable Care Act has a lot of flaws. There are a lot of people that do not trust the federal government and are against the single-payer system but I am sure they will sustain this after they will see the results of such a system.

shawn sargent
4/25/2012 4:34:49 PM

Single payer all the Way!!! That is one of the reasons I voted for Obama in 2008. It is the main thing that would boost our fragile economy, by freeing up 570 Billion dollars, that could be immediately invested in America's green energy future!

bob snead
4/25/2012 2:07:43 PM

Michell is correct. My wife works in the US healthcare system (works with stroke victims) and her father was a physician in Canada when their single payer system was introduced. He was brought into it kicking and screaming, but when he retired was completely in favor. At our wedding he got a chance to talk to my US physician uncle (same specialty). My wife's father paid a small percentage of my uncle's malpractice insurance -- another huge savings. My wife's Canadian sister had a stroke and she got much better care than the comparable patients my wife works with. Sure, it's all anecdotal evidence, but if you stop your ideological rantings and look at the facts, Casey, you'll see you're wrong.

bobo declown
4/25/2012 1:28:31 PM

Until the government stops subsidizing corn, shuts down Monsanto and brings the troops home, health care will just be a piece of expensive gauze on a hemorrhage, no matter how it is administered.

4/24/2012 5:01:05 AM

You are incorrect, Suzanne is correct, you need to study the problem and know where the savings are. Just by eliminating the middle-man insurance industry cuts 20% off the top. see

sea star rn
4/23/2012 5:43:21 PM

50 doctors were not 'whispering' for a chance for Medicare for All.... they actually filed an amicus brief also asking that the ACA should be ruled unconstitutional. Sadly their action has gotten very little press. Here are a couple of articles to enjoy if you are a single payer supporter.'s the petition to support these 50 doctors

mitchell rothman
4/23/2012 2:05:51 PM

I am a Canadian. I can cite case after case of ordinary people I know, who never could have afforded health insurance in the US, getting top-notch health care in Canada. One case is a 5-year old boy with a non-malignant brain tumor who had a 12-hour surgery with a top pediatric neurosurgical team, followed by monitoring for motor, visual, aural, physiological development. Both his parents are freelance classical musicians. In the US they could never have afforded this care. I can give you many more examples. Yes, if we want an MRI we may have to go at 2 AM because our hospitals don't waste money on underutilized machines to compete with each other for the patronage of those few who have good insurance and can afford it. But just look at our statistics on basic health, like infant mortality rates, life expectancy, etc. We are doing way better than the US because we have good health care for (almost) everyone, not just really fantastic health care for a few and neglect for very many others. Sure, our system is not perfect. Remote and especially aboriginal communities do not get good basic care. In some rural areas people have to travel for specialist care. There can be long waits for some "elective" surgeries like joint replacements. But overall, our single payer system does a much better job than the US system, covers almost all of the population, and does it for a significantly lower cost in terms of % of GDP than the US. So if you ask this Canadian, you should give up your silly reactionary knee-jerk "government can't do anything" and get behind single-payer health care, for your health and that of your children and grandchildren.

klaus schaffer
4/23/2012 12:43:37 PM

It better pass, otherwise, I won't be able to pay for this: national politics news websites

4/22/2012 2:25:11 PM

Government's not the reason we're in this mess - unless you count bush's government giving massive tax cuts to billionaires and engaging in wars for oil profits. We're in this mess because government fell down on the job and deregulated Wall St.

nobamacare casey
4/22/2012 11:17:42 AM

What Country does Suzanne Lindgren live in? Cause it ain't the USA! She manufacturers: "a single-payer system would save as much as $570 billion" Sister Lindgren, Medicare & Medicaid have cost us TRILLIONS in unfunded liabilities, and they are single payer. Obama does not even pretend to continue that lie of fake cost savings!

nobamacare casey
4/22/2012 11:14:09 AM

Great analogy! Government is the reason we are in this mess, and so the left recommends: MORE GOVERNMENT? Their communism is unaffordable. Ask a Canadian or Brit what they think of their healthcare. Shameful.

jon nixxer
4/21/2012 9:48:42 PM

Single Payer needs a good catch phrase so people can really understand what the system means. I suggest: "HMOs and the DMV: Together at Last!"