SB 562: Pros and cons of the single-payer healthcare system

The current health care reform – Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), required in each state was established as an American Health Benefit Exchange so that qualified individuals and qualified small employers could purchase qualified affordable health benefit plans. This qualified health plan is a plan that offers an essential health benefit package for those who don’t have health insurance otherwise. Under Medi-Care, which is funded by the federal Medicaid program and administered by State Department of Health Care Services, already benefits certain low-income populations with basic health care coverage.

The proposed Senate Bill, No. 562, is a clear statement of intent of the Legislature to enact a legislation that could potentially establish a universal single-payer health care coverage program along with a cost control system. Popularized by Senator Bernie Sanders, a single-payer system is not a new concept in the U.S. – it was actually first addressed to Congress by President Harry Truman in 1945, but was dropped after opposition from American Medical Association.

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The universal single-payer health care system is the type of health insurance that allows a government agency to organize healthcare financing, though it would still be working with major private insurance companies. This type of health insurance plan would guarantee that all residents of California would be covered for all basic medical services be it long-term care, reproductive, prevention, mental health, and even drug and supply costs. Unfortunately, this legislation does not cover dental care and essential procedures like dental implant costs.

U.S. is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee its residents universal health coverage although spends highest per capita for healthcare – and this would be an attempt to begin changing that. However,  there are a few concerns with this proposal.

Imagine the spirit of the DMV in a health care system. Yes, it can be quite inefficient. One of the fears of universal single-payer system is that it will be administered as a public company with increased bureaucracy, and will be as “inefficient” and “customer unfriendly” as Medicare. Another expectation is that if the single-payer health care system is managed with a DMV administration like system, it will create major delays in processing funding which can increase wait times for getting complicated (and sometimes urgent) procedures done.

Though there are many potential cons or fears associated with the single-payer health care system, one thing we know is that a single-payer health system that is administered efficiently, like in many European countries, is very beneficial to vulnerable populations. And for those individuals that would prefer premium to healthcare and service would still have the option of private insurance plans. We like to look at this through the lens of airline tickets – economy class tickets becoming free while those who like extra comfort and can buy first class tickets. ✈ ✈ ✈

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