Single Payer Health Care Essay Example



As COVID-19 continues to infect thousands of people in the United States every day, health care has become an increasingly important societal and political issue in the country. Currently, the U.S. has a hybrid system and so it incorporates both private and public health care expenditures. However, due to the advantages such as decreased health care cost and increased access to affordable medical care without adverse effects to the economy, the U.S. should move to single payer system in which the government organizes government funding of health care for all Americans.

Despite having the highest expenditures on health care, the U.S. ranks close to the bottom when compared to other developed countries’ infant mortality rate and life expectancy. The U.S. health expenditures as a percent of GDP were 16.9% while the OECD average was around 12% (McCarthy). Even with the high level of spending, the U.S. is ranked 29th out of the 35 countries in the OECD for infant mortality rate and 26th for life expectancy (“2016 Annual Report”). Seemingly, spending more money on medical treatment does not directly increase the well-being of the population. Many countries, like Sweden, Norway and Denmark, that spend less than the U.S. as a percentage of GDP on healthcare maintain higher indicators of life expectancy and lower mortality (“2016 Annual Report”). By switching to the single payer system, the U.S. can not only improve health indicators of U.S. citizens, but cut health care costs and avoid adverse effects to the economy with its introduction. 

The first advantage of the U.S. government adopting a single payer healthcare system is the decrease in cost of health care which would help reduce medical costs on households. With the adoption of an electronic platform for health care information (rather than the current complex and mostly paper system), the government could cut down on overall administrative overhead costs over time (Reinhardt and Madison). For example, billing processes would be simplified and less costly. Additionally, under a single pay system the government could buy medicines and other medical equipment in bulk, which could further lower health care costs (Reinhardt and Madison). As a result of the lower cost per visit to a medical professional or procedure, this leads to a lower monetary burden on households. In a single payer system, a modest tax will likely be introduced by the government to pay for the medical care. However, this tax will be less than what the previous insurance payment would have been due to the overall decreased cost of health care. Researchers ran a study to estimate the impacts if the U.S. shifted to a single payer system and out of the 22 different models 19 saw on average 3.5% decrease in health care costs (Kurtzman). This reduction in costs can be transferred to individuals and households through the accompanying decrease in medical costs.

Secondly, another benefit to adopting the single pay system is that everyone would have access to health care with little to no adverse effects to the economy. Although there will be some unemployment in jobs like claims negotiators, billers, and medical equipment sales representatives there will be new jobs in the health care sector and small businesses. In 2018 there were an estimated 30.4 million Americans uninsured (Gunja and Collins). Once insured under the single payer system, these people will increase demand for doctors, nurses, and manufactured health equipment products leading to new available jobs in the sector. Additionally in the U.S., small businesses employ 47.5% of the private workforce (“2018 Small Business”). A single payer system would reduce health costs for small businesses. Reported as the largest concern for small businesses, the reduction in medical expenses will free up income to spend on the enterprise, like hiring new workers (“Single-Payer System”). Additionally, without the high costs associated with providing health coverage to employees, increased entrepreneurship will occur. 

The debate about who or what should pay for health care and insurance has been an ongoing issue for many years. While there are drawbacks to the single payer system, the benefits such as negligible job loss and even potential job growth, and decreased medical care expenditures for households outweigh many of the disadvantages. As a result, the U.S. should adopt a single payer system for health care.