Open letter highlights the potential benefits of a single-payer health care system
Some 560 medical professionals and medical students have come together to issue an open letter concerning the renewed debate concerning health insurance in the United States. With the 2016 presidential campaign in full swing, politicians have been highlighting the merits of a single-payer health care system. Such a system involves the state, rather than insurance companies, paying for all health care costs. Many believe such a system would make it easier for people to acquire health insurance coverage.
30 million people still lack insurance coverage in the US
The open letter highlights the fact that while the Affordable Care Act has made coverage significantly more accessible to consumers, there are still nearly 30 million people throughout the country that lack insurance coverage. High co-payments, deductibles, and increasingly narrow health care networks are making it expensive and difficult for consumers to acquire the coverage that they need. Much of the costs associated with health care are committed to administration. Approximately 31% of medical spending is on administration costs, whereas Canada, which has a single-payer system in place, spends only 16.7% on administration.
Some believe that a single-payer system would lead to higher costs
Concerns regarding a single-payer system are based on the Medicare for All plan, which was introduced by presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders during his campaign. Critics of the plan suggest that it would lead to massive increases in medical spending, but the open letter suggests that such a plan would offset this spending by providing consumers with savings on premiums and cutting down on out-of-pocket costs. These savings could be more than enough to provide coverage to the uninsured while also improving the insurance coverage that consumers already have.
Countries with a single-payer system in place show that it can be a success, in terms of savings
Several countries already have a single-payer system in place, or something very similar. In Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, the bargaining power these countries have due to such systems allow them to provide consumers with a 50% discount on medications that people need. Notably, making coverage more accessible to consumers did not lead to a surge in hospital visits. In Canada, physicians reported seeing poor and sick patients more often, whereas they saw affluent and healthy patients much less often.