As the healthcare debate continues both in congress and in states throughout the country, many are touting a single-payer healthcare system as the answer to our country’s healthcare and health insurance challenges.
A single-payer system is, in essence, government-run healthcare. Instead of choosing coverage from the insurer of your (or your employer’s) choice, you would pay for your health coverage to the government in the form of taxes.
This is not a particularly new idea. It has been the norm in many parts of the world. And it was even proposed by Harry Truman just after the close of World War II. The plan was opposed by the American Medical Association and it soon faded away. Medicaid and Medicare could be considered forms of single-payer healthcare for certain portions of the population—the poor and the elderly, respectively.
While this may seem like a simple solution on the surface, there are many downsides to single-payer healthcare. This infographic from the National Association of Health Underwriters illustrates some of those downfalls.
Some of the most significant concerns are:
Single-Payer Healthcare May Destroy Jobs and Create a Health-Provider Shortage
If reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals are set too low, below the costs of actual patient care, medical professionals and facilities will eventually be forced into bankruptcy, causing the loss not only of medical care, but also the jobs of care providers and support staff.
Single-Payer Healthcare May Lead to Longer Waits for Care
In many parts of the world where single-payer is the norm, waits for medical evaluation, treatment and even surgeries are far longer than under our current system. As the availability of care providers drops, the wait time for treatment will increase.
Single-Payer Healthcare May Lead to Decreased Access to Prescription Drugs and Cutbacks in Research and Development
One means of controlling the cost of healthcare in a single-payer system is the “rationing” of care. Expensive therapies, including costly prescription drugs may be limited to help avoid excessive costs. In addition, the price controls and limited reimbursements could reduce the incentive for research and development of new medications and treatments that may save lives and improve the quality of life for many.
Single-payer Healthcare Will Increase Taxes
Since single-payer healthcare is a government-funded program, taxes will increase to pay for the program. By how much is yet unknown, but it is a certainty that taxes will continue to increase as the cost of healthcare increases.