Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Single Payer on the way

Vermont just passed its bill for a state-wide single payer system to take the place of private and corporate insurance programs. There's been a lot of debate, a lot of misinformation, and a lot of concerns about this system, and I want to address some of them.

There is a radio ad going around that talks about how all of our insurance plans will be gone if single payer is passed. What it fails to mention is that those plans would be replaced by a government-run plan that would maintain cost and benefits better than a private insurance program.

Second, it has been said that single payer is bad for business. But the program actually reduces costs for companies because they no longer have to pay the exorbitant rates that come from private insurers. Also, a worker will no longer be tied to their job because of health care benefits. Their coverage will go with them, and not be contingent on employment.

Third, it's been said that this system will be bad for doctors. However, doctors receive very little compensation from insurance companies, and have resorted to raising rates to meet their needs. Also, they are barred from using certain procedures or medications because they are not covered by insurance. This program would free up some of that, and provide doctors with more compensation for services. I wonder why people think that doctors will not be able to operate in a single payer health system?

Finally, the single payer system makes health care a right for all, not a privilege for those who can afford it. It makes fiscal sense to promote things like preventative care, healthy choices, and shared costs. And, Vermont is already one of the healthiest states in the country. It has the least carbon footprint, has the lowest GDP already, the second smallest population and is one of the least diverse states. All of these things mean that the single payer system will be relatively straightforward. For example there won't need to be as many allowances made for varying socioeconomic status, race, or environment as there would be in a state like New York or California. Vermont is a great test drive state, is exceedingly liberal, and has the added benefit of already being healthy and promoting healthy choices from a young age.

I believe the single payer system will be a great success, as long as it can survive the stigma of this major smear campaign that has tirelessly attempted to derail it. There is a lot of distortion going on that stems from genuine concern over the outcome of this legislation. There are those who stand to lose money, certainly, and those who simply don't know what the end result will be. But for all that, this is a step in the right direction, in fact the only direction, to cutting costs and bringing health care to everyone.

1 comment:

samp said...

I would like to comment that on the surface the single-payer health plan for VT seems appropriate. Of course the state still needs a number of waivers from the Feds to be able to start it here in Vermont. I do have a couple of concerns however.
First, I believe that the costs, i.e. how much it will cost; how it is going to be paid for etc. need to addressed up front, not AFTER it's been approved. However, it appears the legislature which of course is in the hands of the Democrats as is the Governor, will pass it without addressing costs.
Second, I have some heart burn having a panel of 5, Governnor appointed people, not accountable to the voters setting up what is covered, who is covered and how much a doctor can charge and even determining (not the dr)if the procedure is permissible. Sounds like rationing to me and the probability of continued cost increases however often this "panel" decides to meet. Not sure either how those with Federal plans and others already satisifed witha their insurance will be treated. Too many unanswered questions. And the legislature and Governor went against the recommendation of the person they hired to present a single payer plan who recommended that the cost(s) of the program must be addressed first, BEFORE it's implemented. One final observation it will not become effective until after the next election for that by design.
I am not totally against a single payer health plan, but I certainly need many more details before I'd consider fully supporting it. And as far as I know NO country which has or had tried a single payer system has been successful..none. I hate to be told whats good for me by those who don't know me but are arrogant enough to think they know best. They are called bureaucrats and scare the hell out of me in allowing them to decide my health needs NOT my doctor. We'll see. I'll keep an open mind for the time being. I do agree there are a lot of "scare" tactics being used by both sides. We only want and need the true facts.