The idea of a single-payer healthcare system has entered the presidential debates—and that’s a very good thing, a doctors group says, as it is “only equitable, financially responsible and humane cure for our healthcare ills.”
In a statement released Friday by the non-partisan Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), its president, Dr. Robert Zarr, calls it “a welcome development,” and also refutes a number of myths surrounding such a plan, sometimes referred to as a Medicare-for-all plan, including supposed high costs and lack of public support.
On cost, says Zarr, “Single-payer is the only health reform that pays for itself;” in contrast, “keeping the current private-insurance-based system intact is not [affordable.]”
Enacting a single-payer system would entail “[r]eplacing hundreds of insurers and thousands of different private health plans,” and that, in turn, would mean “$400 billion in health spending would be freed up to guarantee coverage to all of the 30 million people who are currently uninsured and to upgrade the coverage of everyone else, including the tens of millions who are underinsured.”
As far as the myth of lack of support, Zarr cites various surveys showing a single payer system is backed by a majority of Americans, and points to one survey finding as much as two-thirds of Americans support it, not to mention being backed by numerous medical, political, faith-based, and community organizations.
His statement also points to a study published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health by PNHP members Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, who write that in our current privately financed healthcare system, in fact, taxpayers are footing the bill for about 64 percent of U.S. health spending.
The statement comes days after presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders released the details of his healthcare proposal, saying it is “time for our country to join every other major industrialized nation on Earth and guarantee health care to all citizens as a right, not a privilege.”
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The plan was welcomed by the 185,000-member National Nurses United, with executive director RoseAnn DeMoro writing, “Instead of being held hostage to a corporate system based on profits and price gouging, with Sanders’ Medicare for all plan we can finally have a system based on patient need, with a single standard of quality care for all, regardless of ability to pay, race, gender, age, or where you live. That’s a beautiful thing.”
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