A single payer health care system is also known as universal health care. It’s the type of system where everyone pays into a single fund and then that fund pays for all of the medical services that people need. Medical services are generally provided by private practitioners and the single fund is generally not overseen by the government, but it could be. It creates a public health care system that is at least semi-private in nature.
Adopting a single payer health care system certainly has some advantages and disadvantages to consider. Is this type of health care the best type of care to receive?
What Are the Pros of a Single Payer Health Care System?
1. It doesn’t eliminate private insurance.
Although a 100% universal health care system would eliminate private insurance, most single payer systems still have insurance programs that can fill in gaps of care that might creep up as a system of health care transitions to a single payer system. Private medical providers outside of the universal network might also accept private insurance as a care alternative.
2. It provides more access to health care to everyone.
People who don’t have any health care insurance typically don’t seek out any medical services unless they feel like they don’t have any other option. By providing a single payer system, more people would have access to some basic health care needs that could increase their professional productivity.
3. It streamlines the health care system.
In the United States, it isn’t uncommon for someone to receive 6 different bills for services that have been rendered. Bills are sent to customers before health insurance payments are received too and this creates a lot of confusion, past due bills, and ultimately headaches for everyone involved. A single payer system would eliminate almost all of these issues.
What Are the Cons of a Single Payer Health Care System?
1. It could increase the wait times for specific care options.
In a single payer system, where everyone receives equal coverage, wait times are expected to increase. Wait times in universal systems to see medical specialists can easily reach 2 months or more. It is not uncommon to have to wait a year or more for a surgery that isn’t considered a life-saving event.
2. It could decrease the overall quality of care received.
In the UK, there are areas where just 3 doctors are serving a population size of 1,000 people. With so many patients to care for, speed inevitably becomes necessary and increased speeds in medical care invariably result in missed health problems that could lead to life threatening conditions.
3. It will result in a tax increase.
Single payer systems generally need more than just a policy payment to cover the costs of care. In Australia, for example, the publicly funded care system has a 1.5% income tax levy for most workers and an additional 1% for high income earners.
Is a single payer system the right way to handle health care? In the United States, Vermont intends to transition to a single payer system when they are allowed to do so. Other states may follow suit. By weighing the pros and cons of this system, every community can decide it this type of health care is the best type to have.