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Yoga Korunta

Life & Politics

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Location: United States

One learns, as nothing endures but change.

30 January 2007

Tuesday's Word: Single Payer Health Care

Today's post idea comes to us from the lovely and talented Alicia Morgan, author of Last Left Turn Before Hooterville.

From Families USA:

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are being promoted by President Bush and conservatives in Congress as a way to bring down spiraling health care costs. Only if consumers have "skin in the game," they argue, will Americans start to shop around for cheaper health care.

HSAs: The Next Big Non-Solution
Watch it now!

HSAs are tax sheltered savings accounts coupled with high-deductible health insurance policies, and they have serious drawbacks. For many health consumers, HSAs will increase out-of-pocket costs—and complexity.

And here's what they won't do: They won't bring down health care costs and they won't make a dent in the number of Americans without health insurance. This resource center pulls together a range of materials looking at the limitations of Health Savings Accounts.

From Families USA:
Six Reasons to Be Wary of High-Deductible HSA Plans (December 2006)

From Physicians for a National Health Program:
Single-Payer National Health Insurance

Single-payer national health insurance is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health financing, but delivery of care remains largely private.

Currently, the U.S. health care system is outrageously expensive, yet inadequate. Despite spending more than twice as much as the rest of the industrialized nations ($7,129 per capita), the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization rates. Moreover, the other advanced nations provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, while the U.S. leaves 46 million completely uninsured and millions more inadequately covered.

The reason we spend more and get less than the rest of the world is because we have a patchwork system of for-profit payers. Private insurers necessarily waste health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. Doctors and hospitals must maintain costly administrative staffs to deal with the bureaucracy. Combined, this needless administration consumes one-third (31 percent) of Americans’ health dollars.

Single-payer financing is the only way to recapture this wasted money. The potential savings on paperwork, more than $350 billion per year, are enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do.

Under a single-payer system, all Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services, including: doctor, hospital, long-term care, mental health, dental vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.

Physicians would be paid fee-for-service according to a negotiated formulary or receive salary from a hospital or nonprofit HMO / group practice. Hospitals would receive a global budget for operating expenses. Health facilities and expensive equipment purchases would be managed by regional health planning boards.

A single-payer system would be financed by eliminating private insurers and recapturing their administrative waste. Modest new taxes would replace premiums and out-of-pocket payments currently paid by individuals and business. Costs would be controlled though negotiated fees, global budgeting and bulk purchasing.


PNHP Mission Statement

Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) believes that access to high-quality health care is a right of all people and should be provided equitably as a public service rather than bought and sold as a commodity.

The mission of PNHP is therefore to educate physicians, other health workers, and the general public on the need for a comprehensive, high-quality, publicly-funded health care program, equitably-accessible to all residents of the United States.

Equitable accessibility requires, in the view of PNHP, removal of the barriers to adequate health care currently faced by the uninsured, the poor, minority populations and immigrants, both documented and undocumented.

PNHP views this campaign as part of the campaign for social justice in the United States. PNHP opposes for-profit control, and especially corporate control, of the health system and favors democratic control, public administration, and single-payer financing.

PNHP believes this program should be financed by truly progressive taxation. PNHP actively opposes current changes in the health care system that are designed to maximize the profits of investors and the incomes of high-level executives rather than to serve patients.

PNHP's goal is the restoration of what it views as the primary mission of physicians, acting as professional advocates for our patients.

PNHP is an independent, non-partisan, voluntary organization. PNHP's work is supported by our members' dues and contributions, and by grants from progressive foundations; it accepts no funding from pharmaceutical companies or other for-profit entities. PNHP organizes physicians, medical students, other health workers, and the public in support of this program and promotes discussion of health policy in the U.S. through conferences, lectures, articles, and other methods.






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