The Times News recently published two articles by a local physician. Dr. Robert Funke explored two questions: Why are we overpaying for our health care and why do we continue to link our health care to employer-sponsored health insurance models?
Excellent questions through which he supported the need to consider a single-payer system similar to what other developed countries have adopted. In simple terms, other nations recognize health care is an essential public service that must be available to all citizens, so the government pays for their citizens’ health care through a taxation system similar to other essential services provided by the government.
Since the founding of our democracy, we have used single-payer systems for essential services. Military and police provide security for all citizens, our public schools provide education for all children, we have a system of public streets and highways funded by local, state and federal governments. We can all use these services which are provided and maintained by the government’s current policy of taxation to pay for essential public services. Voters hold public officials accountable for the quality and cost of these services.
With a single-payer health care system financed and administered by the government, citizens would actually have more control over our medical insurance than over employer-sponsored or private insurance. Currently employers and insurance companies decide on deductibles, copays and networks of providers they select. Expensive and inefficient bureaucracy in these plans keeps the cost high.
We must look at how single-payer models, already adopted by comparable democratic countries, can be tweaked to serve the U.S. so we can move to a less-costly, higher-quality and effective system. The first step is recognizing health care as an essential public service and implementing a single-payer system.