Is Single-Payer the Right Way Forward for Health Care?

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America’s progressives are right when they say we need a health care system that guarantees everyone affordable access to essential care, asks everyone to pay their fair share of the cost, but not more, and makes health care transparent, efficient, and consumer-friendly. But are the also right about the best way to get there?

They ask, why don’t we just adopt a single-payer health care system like every other rich democratic country has? Why can’t the government just pay everyone’s medical bills and be done with it?

These are understandable questions, but they oversimplify. If we look closely at the world’s top-rated health care systems – those in countries like the UK, Australia, and the Netherlands – we find that they are not true single-payer systems. Compared with proposals like Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All, other countries’ health care systems are much more decentralized, and stop well short of paying for all care for everyone.

To get a health care system that is universal, affordable, fair, and efficient, the United States needs to learn from other countries’ experience and adapt it to specific American circumstances. Universal catastrophic coverage offers a more plausible model than an idealized single-payer system that exists nowhere else.

For a full discussion, check out the slideshow of my July 5th presentation to the Cracker Barrel Society of Northport, Michigan.