Single-Payer Healthcare

Sally Pipes was recently interviewed on my radio show Regarding Your Money on WNPV 1440AM. Link She is the president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank. She regularly addresses national and international audiences on healthcare issues. As a native Canadian and naturalized American, she has a unique understanding of how government-run single-payer healthcare systems actually operate -- and why such ideas are wrong for America.

      Single-payer national health insurance, also known as “Medicare for all,” is a system                    in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health care financing, but                     the delivery of care remains largely in private hands. Under a single-payer system, all                residents of the U.S. would be covered for all medically necessary services, including                  doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care,           dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs.

A revival movement is sweeping the nation. Millions of souls have already been converted, thanks to a charismatic preacher and his passionate disciples.

 

 

     I'm talking, of course, about the doctrine of "Medicare for All" and its chief evangelist, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The socialist senator's sermons appear to have swayed the masses. In 42 states, a majority of residents now support a Medicare-for-All system, according to new research from Data for Progress, a left-wing think tank. That's a significant increase from September of last year, when fewer than half of Americans supported single-payer.

     It's no mystery why the number of single-payer converts has grown. Sen. Sanders and his progressive allies preach that single-payer will ensure universal coverage and deliver high-quality care. That sounds heavenly to ordinary Americans frustrated by the shortcomings of the healthcare status quo.

     Forty-seven percent of Americans believe -- wrongly -- that they'd be able to keep their existing health plans under a single-payer system. By definition, single-payer systems effectively outlaw private insurance and enroll all residents in a one-size-fits-all, government-run health plan.

     Rationing can occur in one of two ways. Governments can ration care directly by nationalizing hospitals and clinics. The government holds down costs by hiring a limited number of doctors and building relatively few hospitals.

     Or governments can set low reimbursement rates for physicians and hospitals. This discourages people from joining the medical profession and building new facilities. Doctor shortages and long wait times for patients are the result.

     The United Kingdom's National Health Service employs the first option. Shortages and delays are so bad that the British Red Cross last year warned the system was experiencing a "humanitarian crisis".

     Amid chronic overcrowding during this winter's flu season, NHS doctors were forced to treat over 100 patients a day in hospital hallways due to a lack of beds. Thousands of patients waited in ambulances for an hour or more before receiving care. Only one in three British patients is satisfied with the NHS, according to a recent poll.

     My native Canada utilizes the second strategy. It sets such low reimbursements that the country suffers from a chronic, and worsening, shortage of doctors. Last year, the typical Canadian patient waited 21 weeks to receive treatment from a specialist after obtaining a referral from a general practitioner.

      The Gospel according to Bernie doesn't lead to salvation -- it leads to ruin. If progressives raise up a single-payer system in the United States, Americans will experience the same life-threatening rationing that Britons and Canadians face every day.

 

Pipes, Sally. “Don't Fall for Single-Payer's False Promises.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 Mar. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/sallypipes/2018/03/19/dont-fall-for-single-payers-false-promises/.

“What Is Single Payer?” What Is Single Payer? | Physicians for a National Health Program, Physicians for a National Health Program, © PNHP 2016, www.pnhp.org/facts/what-is-single-payer.

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