Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No Single Payer in Our Time 

“Hope springs eternal” would make a good motto for the advocates of single payer (a.k.a. national health insurance).  A few days ago, I got a large, impressive looking envelope in the mail from Public Citizen, a Washington D.C. based advocacy organization.  It contained material inviting me to sign a petition to my U.S. Senators advocating single payer. 

The June 16 issue of The Boston Globe also had a letter or two urging single payer as the solution to our health care issues. 

Single payer may be a good idea and the people who so persistently urge its adoption are undoubtedly intelligent, sincere, and well-meaning, but I have news for them.  It isn’t going to happen. 

The reason is this:  Most of the politically active people in this country have health insurance and are satisfied with their coverage.  Given that we already spend too much for health care (if costs are too high, that means that expenditures are, too.) there is no conceivable program of national health insurance that would leave these people better off.  Some of them would be worse off, and, given the legendary American distrust of government, the rest are likely to fear that they might be, too.  

No politician skillful enough to earn election to national office would be likely to vote for anything having such a result.  An example has been provided by the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).  It contains reform measures much less drastic than single payer and despite a number of provisions that have been well received, has proved to be less popular than the President might have hoped for.  

For over forty years now I have been predicting that we would not have national health insurance in the U.S.  I’m sticking with it.

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