Written by Adam Knopsnyder
The single largest issue in US healthcare policy right now is the incredibly high number of Americans who go either uninsured or underinsured. After examining the inadequacies of the current healthcare system and the Affordable Care Act, as well as evaluating the two most popular proposals for healthcare reform, there is a clear and obvious public policy that the United States Congress should enact into law. A single payer healthcare system, in which the federal government provides health care to all, is the only public policy that can truly reach universal health care coverage in the United States and have that coverage be affordable for every single American to use. This memo aims to explain why a single payer healthcare system is the best possible health system to achieve universal health care coverage in the United States.
Currently, the United States of America spends more annually on health care than any other country in the world, spending $3.5 trillion, or 18% of the country’s GDP, in 2017 on health care costs alone (American Health Care, 2018). Moreover, experts have estimated that by the year 2027, the United States will be spending nearly $6 trillion annually, meaning the federal government will spend over $42.9 trillion in the next decade if the current healthcare system is maintained (FACT CHECK, 2020). However, if the US would adopt a single payer health care policy, studies have shown that the overall spending on health care in America would reduce by 13%, or $450 billion a year (FACT CHECK, 2020). This level of reduction in spending on health care would result not only in decreased spending at the federal level, but individuals would also experience an overall decrease in the amount of out-of-pocket spending. Once profit is taken out of the equation in healthcare, the government can focus on providing medical services and medications at-cost instead of at the current rate of inflated prices.
When it comes to the issue of access to health care coverage in a single payer setting, since there is only one, government-run healthcare system, Americans would automatically be enrolled in the health insurance system at birth. This would virtually ensure that the US reached universal coverage. Furthermore, most single payer policies include extremely comprehensive medical coverage, including services such as dental care, vision care, hearing devices, use of ambulance services, and mental health counseling (“Physicians’ Proposal,” n.d.). This kind of all-inclusive coverage offers benefits that in our current system would require multiple health insurance plans to obtain all of the same services. Additionally, a study done by Yale University found that if a single payer healthcare system was instituted in the US, it could save approximately 68,000 American lives each year (FACT CHECK, 2020). With this level of health care coverage offered by a single payer healthcare system, Americans could live a longer and more satisfying life while at the same exact time paying less in overall expenses compared to what the average individual is currently paying under the Affordable Care Act.
American Health Care: Health Spending and the Federal Budget. (2018, May 16). Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. https://www.crfb.org/papers/american-health-care-health-spending-and-federal-budget
FACT CHECK: Medicare for All Would Save the U.S. Trillions; Public Option Would Leave Millions Uninsured, Not Garner Savings. (2020, February 21). Public Citizen. https://www.citizen.org/news/fact-check-medicare-for-all-would-save-the-u-s-trillions-public-option-would-leave-millions-uninsured-not-garner-savings/
Physicians’ Proposal. (n.d.). PNHP. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from https://pnhp.org/what-is-single-payer/physicians-proposal/