Only National Health Care Controls Costs, Provides Care

National Single-Payer Health Insurance is the only way to control the cost of health care services and ensure universal care.   Costs would be controlled by setting a national rate for all services, in distinction to the inflated rate charged to those who can actually afford to pay, an excess that is used to cover private insurance profit and subsidize the health care needs of many uninsured or marginally insured patients who must default on payments.

The capping of costs would NOT come at the expense of salaries or necessary procedures.   The salaries of health care workers must naturally increase with the cost of living and through earned merit raises.   Medical procedures will be conducted at the discretion of the attending physician, as is the case now, but without the pressure to milk private insurance through irrelevant or opportunistic testing.  As Arnold Relman writes in an excellent article in the July 2 New York Times Review of Books:

The central problem is its expense. Health care in the US is about twice as expensive per capita as in other developed countries—nearly 17 percent of US GDP in 2008—and its costs are rising faster. High costs partly account for another huge health care problem—nearly 50 million people are uninsured, and the number is rapidly increasing. Economists say that the main reason for high costs is the ever-expanding use of expensive kinds of diagnosis and treatment, such as new drugs, diagnostic tests, imaging methods, and surgical procedures. Physicians in most other advanced countries have access to virtually the same resources, but use them less.


Profits and management expenses take at least 10 to 20 percent of the premiums charged by investor-owned plans, including the costs of selecting those they will insure, whereas the overhead costs of Medicare—a government-run insurance plan covering everyone sixty-five and older—are about 3 percent. When private insurance companies provide coverage for Medicare patients (as in the Medicare Advantage plans), they cost the US government about 13 percent more than standard Medicare coverage.

The public/private plan of President Obama, essentially expanding Medicade to the uninsured 50 million Americans, would do nothing to control costs.  Under the Obama plan, the contradictions of inflated cost to those who can pay and withheld services to those who cannot, would result in continued curtailment of care and the death of persons in the receiving the lower de facto standard of care.

Savings will come through cost and service efficiency.  So, how much does the largest physicians group in favor of National Insurance think the new system will cost?  The Physicians for a National Health Program have collected more than a dozen studies going back eighteen years to support their conclusion that national health care would be more efficient and provide better services than the private insurance system now covering only the majority of Americans.

How Much Would a Single Payer System Cost? Editors’ Note: With the recent resurgence of interest in controlling health care costs, we thought a review of some of the state and national fiscal studies performed on single payer over the years might be useful.

Read the reports:



Posted on June 19, 2009, in Analysis, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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