Monday, June 08, 2009

Health Care Reform - Single Payer is the Only Way

OK, call me a "socialist". I just think that a few very large public functions need to be done by the government, and health care insurance is one of them. Going to a single-payer, government-run plan is the only way Americans will be able to receive adequate health care at a reasonable price. But, there will be some perceived sacrifices by consumers, and the hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical manufacturers will not be happy about it.

Sacrifices will be necessary to implement universal health care. Some expensive treatments will not be provided for persons near the end of life; they, and relatives, will be angry. Some persons with destructive life styles will not receive unlimited treatments for their repetitive self-inflicted wounds. Judgments will be made about providing the most care for the most people, given some limits on resources. Some will be unhappy. Of course, the rich will always be able to buy whatever care they desire, in the U.S. or elsewhere; they'll just have to pay for it themselves.

Some heath care providers will be happy with a single payer plan. My own internist, for example, is totally bummed out by HMO paperwork and bureaucracy. Others, chiefly those whose earnings from specialty practices are spectacular, will be unhappy when government puts the brakes on excessive compensation. In my view, the best of them can go totally private if they so desire. We need more doctors, not just a few of the very best. And, a government plan will make it easier for people to get an M.D. and easier for them to have a normal life once in practice.

Opponents of a single payer plan complain that it will take "choice" away from medical consumers. It's a scare tactic. People will always be able to choose which doctors they wish to see, as long as they're willing to wait in line with everyone else. The real issue is that there are many intermediaries in the current health care system who will be cut out of a single payer plan. Those are the folks who are funding the "anti" campaigns; their lifeblood depends on keeping their rather useless functions going. I say, good riddence.

Will we get some form of national health care soon? Probably not. But costs will soon escalate beyond the capability of our economy to support them under the current system. Then, public opinion will move the concept forward and the very significant change will start to happen. It will take years to fine-tune it, but it's the only long term option. Go for it, Barry!

1 comment:

ThomasLB said...

I think "choice" is an illusion for most people, anyway. All people can usually afford is the plan their employer picked for them.

Since (in theory anyway) We The People are in charge of the government, a government-run plan might actually give people MORE control.