A reader writes:
I have heard you on POTUS with P.D. many times. The problem I have with a single payer system is the corruption in the government. They can’t run the programs they have now. Even Barney Frank says Medicare needs more money. The government already gets way too much of my money and I don’t want them to have more. This isn’t Canada. What happens if it doesn’t work? The government will never give up that money and go to another system, they will just keep pouring money into a bad system like always. It all looks great on paper until you put it to work in a corrupt system. Will the politicians have the same plan? Do they really care about me? I don’t think so!!
Lots to answer here. First of all, if you’re worried about US government financed health care, you should look to Medicare. And yes, there’s too much fraud in Medicare, but it’s not government corruption – it’s private citizens taking advantage of the government program. I don’t know of any government officials who have been found guilty of corrption in Medicare, and if there are some, they are much fewer in number than those outside the system who are committing fraud. Moreover, there is no scourge of corruption in other countries’ single-payer systems. Do you believe the US government is so much worse than theirs?
Barney Frank is not wrong. Medicare does need more money. But that’s not an indictment of the single-payer system; it’s a consequence of our fragmented insurance system. Private insurance covers about two thirds of people and pays for about one third of health care. Public systems (taxpayers) cover about one third of people and pay for about two thirds of care. That’s because the government has to cover the most expensive people (the elderly, poor, soldiers, etc.). And, while private insurance companies can raise premiums year to year, Medicare taxes have been at about the same rate since we started the system. So the Medicare system is underfunded and costs too much because of the way we set it up, not because it’s single-payer. Know how I know that’s true? Pretty much every other single-payer system in the world is cheaper per person than ours, covers everyone, and achieves similar if not better results.
As to the last points – again – if we adopted these other countries’ systems (which cost less!), it would NOT mean more money from you. Finally, in any single-payer system, everyone, including politicians, would have the same health insurance.
But since almost no one in government is seriously pursuing these options, you don’t need to worry about getting any of these benefits. Nothing in HR3200 will get us to a single-payer system.