Single-payer is the cure


EDITORIAL We're sorry to see all the problems surrounding President Obama's Affordable Care Act, which has made some important improvements to the country's healthcare system, such as helping those with preexisting conditions get coverage and preventing those who do have coverage from being arbitrarily dropped. Given a break from being exploited by the insurance industry, there's no way this country's citizens will want to go back to how things were.

But the convoluted Obamacare system was a foreseeable mess, one that is now causing unnecessary anxiety across the country and bringing right-wing extremists back from the political dead as the mid-term elections approach. Republicans may not be correct when they trumpet the old system as the best on the world, but their criticisms of Obamacare are already finding increasing resonance, and we haven't even gotten to the point yet where it will be illegal not to have health insurance.

It doesn't make sense to leave something as important as our healthcare system in the hands of for-profit corporations with the incentive to drive up costs. The New York Times has done some excellent work this year showing how US residents pay astronomically more for every procedure and drug than citizens of other countries. We should have all been suspicious when the insurance industry cooperated with enacting Obamacare and helped preclude a public option, leaving us with the insurance exchanges that have been so problematic.

There's really only one remedy to this country's ailing healthcare system, which we said at the time that Obamacare was being passed and we'll repeat again now that there's even more evidence supporting our position: We need socialized medicine in this country.

Conservatives who read that assertion are probably shaking their heads in disbelief right now, believing that Obamacare's shortcomings prove that government can't run a healthcare system. And the inexcusable technical problems with the federal website and its related state exchanges unfortunately reinforce that view. But they're wrong, and the single-payer advocates have been right all along, noting among other things that the government runs Medicare well and with far lower overhead than insurance companies.

The problems with Obamacare are similar to the problems it sought to address, and they stem from the fact that an insurance-based model is a terrible way to run a healthcare system. It's too expensive and does too little to hold down medical costs, it's confusing and stressful to people who are already wrestling with disease or injury, and it unjustly creates different standards of care for the rich and poor.

Socialized medicine — or a single-payer system, administered by either government or a private contractor, but paid for automatically through our taxes — works well in just about every other industrialized country, most of which are far less expensive and yet have better healthcare outcomes. A single-payer system could utilize the existing healthcare infrastructure, it would simply change how we pay for it and bring much-needed price controls and regulatory oversight.

Think about it: Healthcare coverage is something that every citizen needs in equal measure. We all need the right to see a doctor when we're sick or injured. None of us should have to gamble with our health by weighing the cost of various monthly insurance premiums against our likelihood of ending up in the hospital. And it really shouldn't be up to struggling small businesses to pay expensive health insurance premiums for their employees, even though that's really the only way to make the fatally flawed insurance model work.


The Democrats have rejected it as well, while the GOP even forged a brand new party on the back of how scared people were of socialized healthcare - the Tea Party.

The flawed roll-out of ObamaCare shows that the government cannot be trusted with healthcare. Far better to keep the current system our current doctors, choices and plans.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

For the entire history of the proposal for universal socialized health care in the U.S. a majority of Americans have always supported it.

See the results of various mainstream polls on the matter at:

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

with an actual prospective implementation of it, they screamed at their elected Congressmen to reject it.

Nice in theory; unworkable in practice.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

You need to stop assuming that what you are told on Fox 'News' is the truth.

It simply is not, and there was never a public outcry against the 'Public Option' or any other socialized medicine proposal.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

The people love the "Affordable Care Act" & "Medicare For All", by a super-majority. The people dislike "Obamacare" & "Socialized Medicine" by a majority. In both cases, when you break down the actual policies in plain language, the electorate loves both.

It's working in practice in 39 of 40 of the wealthiest advanced democracies, for 1/2 the cost per capita per annum resulting in better outcomes than the US. The wealthy retain access to private premium plans offering concierge services, elective procedures, and same-day appointments. Preventative medicine and life-long wellness decrease each patient's lifetime drain on health insurance resources. Socializing the risk without means testing forces all the young, healthy, and/or wealthy to "drive with insurance", which on a national scale means their out-of-pocket expenses for quality comprehensive care would only marginally increase in the short-term, and save tens of thousands to millions over their lifetime.

This was a Heritage Foundation, market-based policy to begin with, anyway, although the Editor's advocacy of single-payer insurance actually makes more sense as the next step based on simple arithmetic, thinking in the long-term, even before civic, ethical, or public health considerations. Remember, even if health insurance became single-payer, health care could remain largely provided by the private sector.

Also, a public agency such as the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which unlike our strictly gatekeeper FDA, does ongoing longitudinal research comparing the safety, efficacy, and expense of new pharmaceuticals & treatments still under patent, compared with generic medications & treatments of proven efficacy, saving public formularies & therefore taxpayers/patients the expense of having to pay for unnecessary tweaks in old formulas to extend a patent another 20 years, saving lives by early & ongoing safety evaluation in an industry where pharmaceutical companies are known to ghostwrite initial research in bringing a trial drug to market, and generally ensuring more evidenced-based policies & formularies.

Posted by saintlennybruce on Nov. 23, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

At best a very slight majority support it out a false perception that it is better than the status quo.


No way.

Most people support Medicare For All. And they know full well that Obamacare does not remotely deliver it to them; or even deliver on its own weak promises.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 24, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

having any appreciation of how much it may cost them, and not just in monetary terms.

MediCare has gaps in coverage, and an increasing number of doctors refused to accept MediCare patients as the government lowers the payments to save money.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

Reality is, the price of health care is going up, because there is no organized downward pressure on prices.

Wait til the baby boomers get even older, and see insurance, whether under Obamacare or not, skyrocket towards unsustainable levels, and then economy will pulled under further.

Only elite private employees, union employees with cushy benefits, and the rich will be able to pay for health care, while Medicaid costs will skyrocket. So the Medicaid recipients and the rich won't have to worry about health care, but everyone in the middle will face no-win situations.

What a screw up situation.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 22, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

Their unfunded liabilities will become astronomical as the boomers age and the younger folks rebel.

Best to make plans to be in another country before the shit hits the fan here. I already have an exit strategy, and you should too.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 22, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

...easily eliminated by;

1) instituting Medicare-For-All


2) removing the cap on Medicare tax collection to include all income and profit no matter how high.

Expanding Medicare to all US residents would save hundreds of billions of dollars per year, thereby balancing out the increased taxes necessary to fully fund the system perpetually.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 23, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

bigger, riskier, more expensive government solution?

You people are insane.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

...shows that it would save hundreds of billions of dollars per year.


"Friedman says his analysis shows that a nonprofit single-payer system based on the principles of the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, H.R. 676, introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and co-sponsored by 44 other lawmakers, would save an estimated $592 billion in 2014. That would be more than enough to cover all 44 million people the government estimates will be uninsured in that year and to upgrade benefits for everyone else."

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

Rather it was a separate government-run program thatw as riddled with flaws.

And it has to be more expensive to give free healthcare to the 45 million people who do not buy insurance.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

Obamacare is a ridiculous joke that bailed out the health insurance industry and was essentially designed to fail on purpose, so that we will soon return to the status quo of for-profit insurance companies dangerously lording over our health care provision.

Obamacare does not in any way, shape or form even remotely resemble universal socialized medicine, as would be provided by simply expanding Medicare to everyone.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

Socialized medicine is cheap, but like most cheap things you get what you pay for. My 4 year old nephew who lives in the UK recently fell and needed stitches. By the time that the emergency room took him in the wound had sealed and it was too late to get stitches. His dad got smart and took out private insurance (yes they have evil private insurance too). The next time that a family member need a doctor (this time my aunt) a private doctor was more than willing to help immediately.

Posted by Mark Manige on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

waiting lists for a variety of treatments. Unlimited free healthcare for everyone is massively expensive and causes excess demand which drives down quality.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2013 @ 7:59 pm that the UK has been dramatically underfunding its health care system.

It is likely doing so to purposely drive the public to become fed up with the system and support privatization.

Other western countries are much more securely funding their systems and not experiencing the problems that are happening in the UK.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

The WSJ had an opinion piece today about Obamacare that concluded with the below paragraphs. He may be right:

"This outcome will shock liberals who have single-payer sugar plums dancing in their head right now. Let's leave them with one thought.

The government-run systems you so admire in other countries mostly came about long ago. They came about to expand access to medical care at a time when medical care couldn't do all that much for people. We live in a different age. America, let's face it, would be embarking on a single-payer system not to expand access—though that slogan would be used—but to deny and limit care in order to control runaway spending."

Posted by The Commish on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 8:48 am

We shouldn't take our cues from the Wall Street Journal editorial page, about this or any issue.

Posted by Steven T. Jones on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 9:25 am

I doubt that.

And one of those newspapers has a readership of about a million times the other. Hmm, who to believe . .

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 9:30 am

You are actually claiming that the editorial content of a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdock, is credible on this question?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

professional and renowned publication then the SFBG, then I think the answer is obvious.

And remember, I'm not the one here who is in left-most percentile of the nation. I'm in the middle somewhere, as a moderate. You're the extremist here.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

...editorial page on the issue of socialized medicine?

Tel you what, let's stop debating who is credible and just focus on the fact that the WSJ editorial's claim that Obamacre is like socialized medicine, is totally laughable.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

was somehow in the same league as the WSJ. It isn't.

As to whether ObamaCare is a form of socialized healthcare, i'd say that that is partly true. It may fall short of your vision of what that means, but it does ensure coverage for all and, especially, those who cannot afford it.

You don't like it because it is not socialist enough, but surely you can accept that there are others who think it is too socialist?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

It leaves 40 -million- people without coverage.

If you are going to deign to spout your neo-con nonsense on a progressive blog, can you at least, please, do us the justice of having your facts straight, or at least remotely within the ballpark of reality.

Thanks in advance.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 2:05 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

As I said 40 million people will not be covered, and even for those who are but choose to shun insurance, the alternative is simply paying a very small fine on your tax return; so far more than 40 million will not be covered when all of the young healthy people who refuse to be jackbooted into forced coverage are accounted for.

More importantly, forcing the public to buy crappy privately provided health insurance, is not socialized health care; it is government forced fully -privatized- health care -insurance-.

I find it incredible that the Democrat rank and file went along with this totally undemocratic attempt to force the public to buy a private product...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

protect others, not yourself. Likewise it is illegal to not carry medical insurance but of course some will do that anyway. either they get fined or they don't get treatment - I am fine with both.

The Dems did what they did because they did what you never do, and listen to the people.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

If the Dems had listened to the people we would have Medicare For All, right now and we would be saving hundreds of billions of dollars per year on better health care for everyone.

And, car liability insurance is 1) far less expensive that health insurance, and 2) has a proven compelling public value (Obama care does not).

Finally, should we not demand that auto liability insurance be provided by a cheaper, nonprofit public insurance fund?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

huge failure by people like you to communicate that to our political leaders.

My experience was that most people opposed it and the politicians simply followed that lead.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

...that the public overwhelmingly supported the public option, and the President single-handedly swept it off the table. Period. This kind of bullshit happens, when corporations, instead of the people, control the government.

As to your memory, it honestly seems to be clouded by your believing Fox 'News'.

Here's the reality of how, even a majority of Republicans, felt about the Public Option..


"The new CBS/New York Times poll not only shows overwhelming support for the public option -- it shows that a plurality of self-identified Republicans are for it, too.

The poll asked this question: "Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan -- something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get -- that would compete with private health insurance plans?"

The top-line result is 65% in favor, 26% opposed. Among Democrats only, it's 81%-12%, and independents are at 61%-30%. And among Republican respondents, 47% are in favor, to 42% opposed."

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

We got screwed by both parties in favor insurance companies.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

But if you were right and the people wanted this but didn't do anything about that, then they do not deserve any better anyway.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

There was a -major- nationwide public campaign in support of the Public Option.

You apparently didn't notice it, because again, you apparently get your 'news' from Fox; a network upon which that massive campaign was likely never reported.

The people spoke.

And Obama threw the people under the bus.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

So clearly there were not enough of them to scare members of Congress into voting a different way.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

When Republicans get elected they attack the Democrats, when Democrats get elected they attack the Democrat base. Neither of the major parties offers a platform that does not involved fucking the Democrat base.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 6:06 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

We tried to do something about it. The Democrats attacked the Greens with a ferocity they never show towards the Republicans.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 24, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

They'd generally quote the Heritage Foundation, but for obvious reasons, they're silent on the faults of their plan. Perhaps the Cato Institute has some thoughts on this?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 9:31 am

of the points made in the cited article, but instead resort to that old liberal favorite - attacking the messenger when all else has failed.

In fact, it wasn't even a last resort, but a first resort.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 9:43 am

I made my points in our editorial this week and I don't see anything in the WSJ screed worth responding to, except to note that health care reform needs to both expand coverage and hold down costs, which a single-payer system is best able to do. Again, as I wrote in the editorial, countries with socialized medicine systems generally have lower costs and better healthcare outcomes (ie lower infant mortality rates, more early diagnosis of serious conditions, etc). The proof is in the pudding.

Posted by steven on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 9:51 am

to 45 million more people without it costing a lot more.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 9:59 am

Probably a 2% increase in corporate and individual taxes and the burden of health care is shifted from employers and ERs and can be made free at the point of provision.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 10:07 am

20% more taxes just so some people I do not know and do not care about can have free stuff?

Er, no thanks.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 10:25 am

Yes. Yes I do.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 10:40 am

do not. And politicians are terrified to raise taxes.

So you are SOL, I'm afraid.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 10:49 am
Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

Up is down? Black is white?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

Yes, everyone paying into the pool via taxes means that the costs are covered. That is why the insurance companies demanded the individual mandate from obamacare. If it works for private insurers with their 17% overhead, then it will work for single payer, only cheaper.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

means that you will be forcing me to give up my current plan.

Not gonna happen.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

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