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I don’t know if we can agree on many points except that what is currently happening is broken and unacceptable.
I subscribe to "Medicare Watch," a newsletter of the advocacy group, Medicare Rights Center. Their latest e-mail cites a source that the United States has fallen to last place among 19 countries in deaths from preventable and treatable diseases. In other analyses I have read, the United States does poorly in cost effectiveness as well as other areas in health care. In other words many citizens of the free world get more bang for their buck! I would restate it in different terms: single payer is more effective not having to pay stockholders, brokers, agents, CEO’s stock options and golden parachutes, or inefficiencies of administration comparable to a single payer system such as Medicare or the Veteran’s Administration.
Simply said, as a beneficiary and taxpayer, I would much rather pay my local hospital and staff, my physician and his/her absolutely necessary support, and clinical and test services in the form of Medicare premiums and co-pays rather than to an unnecessary third party such as the health care insurance industry with all their baggage.
Single payer is the cost effective solution not only for Medicare but for UHC. I will cede auto, home, liability, but never, never health care to the insurance industry or for the matter to the pharmaceuticals.
Don't think that a single payer system would be more cost efficient. Government programs are notorious for becoming bloated and cumbersome. Many nations that currently have single payer systems are beginning to take a second look at them because of the cost and quality of medical services. Right now in Medicare, you have the government setting prices (dictating how much they will pay physicians) and many doctors are either refusing to see more Medicare patients, limiting the number of Medicare patients or even opting out of Medicare completely. In some parts of the country, Medicare patients have to wait six months or longer just to see a primary care physician as a new patient.
One problem with Canada's single payer system is a chronic shortage of doctors and medical facilities. One person I know from Toronto told me that people find it nearly impossible to find a doctor that is accepting new patients now. Many Canadian physicians are deciding to cross the border into the USA to practice medicine and affluent Canadian citizens are getting their medical treatment in the states. In some instances, the privincial government is encouraging it as I stated in an earlier posting.
In the UK, where they have a truly socialized medical system where the medical personnel are actually government employees, people are complaining about the deterioration of medical care and the "don't care" attitude of medical personnel. In both the UK and Canada, the tax burden to pay for their health care has become a cause for concern and both nations are considering cutting benefits and instituting some private health insurance.
Going down the single payer route may also stifle innovation and new development of health care. The profit motive is very strong and tends to reward efficiencies and innovations. There is a cost to process and adjudicate claims no matter whether there is a single payer system or a private health insurance system. A government run system is not necessarily the most efficient.
An example of some pitfalls of a single payer system can be seen here in Ohio. Ohio's workers compensation system is a state run monopoly. There is no private workers compensation insurance in Ohio. During the 1990s, a number of innovations to the system that made it resemble more like a private business had the effect of reducing workers compensation premiums paid by employers while not compromising benefits paid to injured workers.
However during the past decade, Ohio had a very incompetent governor who largely followed the lead of republican party officials in his appointments. He appointed a major republican fund raiser to manage the funds in the workers comp account. What he did was to invest the workers comp funds in rare coins through his coin brokerage and wound up losing more then 300 million from the fund when the investments taanked. Of course, he made a great profit on the deal since he owned the coin brokerage. The resulting scandal swept out the republican party from just about all statewide offices in 2006 and this man is now serving a prison sentence.