The need for a single payer system

Health Care is a Human Right: The need for a single payer system

A universal single payer healthcare system guarantees quality health care for everyone. While providers of healthcare remain private, the system of paying for it becomes public, much like Medicare and Social Security. A single, government insurer would replace the myriad profit-seeking health insurance companies.

Healthcare is a leading cause of bankruptcy in our country, and part of the reason for the high cost of healthcare is lack of access to affordable preventative care. At the same time private health insurance companies pay their CEO’s millions each year and make billions in profit. There are thousands of people in Maine who are currently uninsured or under insured. While the ACA has taken steps to improve the situation, it does not go far enough, and profit still plays too big a role in determining who gets care and who doesn’t.

Why Pass it:

  1. Health care is a human right. Without appropriate access to care, people die. We are the only industrialized nation that doesn’t recognize that fact.

  2. The U.S. has one of the most expensive health care systems in the world and Maine’s healthcare costs are one of the highest in the nation. If everyone has preventative and primary care, the need for expensive critical and emergency care would be greatly reduced. Public health care systems (like Medicare and Medicaid) have proven track records of keeping down administrative costs. Less money wasted on health care would strengthen our economy.

  3. With healthcare as a human right, we could eliminate the single largest cause of personal bankruptcy. We could eliminate the single largest barrier dissuading would-be entrepreneurs from starting new businesses. We could reduce the cost of local government and schools. And, of course, we could live longer, healthier, more productive lives. 

Addressing Common Concerns:

Healthcare is not like other insurance markets. Everyone will need to access it at some point; in fact their lives may depend on it. It is different from every other market because the companies supplying the product currently are allowed to deny their product to consumers if they decide these consumers will cost too much to cover. Private companies shouldn’t be allowed to make a profit by putting others’ lives at risk.

In the 2002, the state of Maine commissioned a study that demonstrated single payer would actually save the state money—and this was before the passage of Affordable Care Act subsidies that already make health care more affordable.  More recently in Vermont, Dr. Hsiao’s report found savings of between 16-25%, or as much as $1.6 billion by 2024.

In our current private system, insurance companies dictate to doctors what services they can provide, what drugs they can provide, and even how much time they can spend with each patient.  Insurance companies make decisions about what to cover and what to deny based on the motive to make as much profit as possible.  This is the worst form of rationing care: by what most profits insurers.  

Sources and Links to more information: