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What is Single Payer Healthcare?

As we mentioned in our last blog, we are going to take a deeper dive into the various healthcare plans being positioned by democrats entering the primary race. While they all tout the same goal of universal health care, the plans are extraordinarily different. In this blog, we will look at a single payer system, being endorsed by many including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris, all three of which are entered into the 2020 race.


A single payer system is not a new model in the world of healthcare. Many other countries, such as Canada, the UK, Italy and Spain, are already using this model. As an example, Canada provides government funded insurance to all citizens. This insurance provides baseline services and people can buy supplemental insurance through the open market to include items like dental insurance, private hospital rooms, etc. Canadians are proud of their healthcare system and boast high quality outcomes. The biggest complaint is wait times, especially for non-emergent elective procedures, but the cost is significantly less than other nations such as the US. Senator Rand Paul even elected to go to Canada for hernia surgery, instead of having it done in the US.


The most common single payer system being campaigned on involves transferring all coverage to one, government run program. The difference between this program and the one in Canada, detailed above, is that this single insurance system would include expanded benefits. These benefits are covered by supplemental private insurance in other systems, meaning that this proposed system would shut down the private insurance market.


The complete shutdown of the private insurance market is one that is met with a lot of resistance. Many worry that the lack of competition in the market will eventually lead to higher costs and less accountability. The other larger concern with single payer coverage is understanding how it will be funded - will this plan be great for coverage but only increase the national debt?


Only time will tell what the country will decide upon, by way of the 2020 election, but this plan seems to be controversial and lacking bipartisan support as it is written now.



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