Single-Payer Health Care: A Burning Issue

By Andrew Price for GOOD

It seems we might actually be changing health care in America this time around. One way we could go would be to adopt what’s called a “single-payer” system like Canada has. Under a single-payer system we would do away with the health insurance companies and one payer (the government) would cover everyone’s medical bills.

Advocates of a single-payer system cite many benefits: The government covers everyone so we wouldn’t have insurance companies cherry-picking the healthiest people to cover, doctors wouldn’t have the same crazy incentive to avoid preventative care because it isn’t covered, we’d have lower administrative costs, and we’d eliminate medical bankruptcy (like other industrial countries already have).

But when Obama convened his 150-person summit on health care last Thursday, there were only two advocates of a single payer system in attendance: the Columbia Medical School professor Oliver Fein and Congressman John Conyers.

The idea of a single-payer system hasn’t gotten much traction in the media either. A recent study from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting details how, even though a majority of Americans now wants the government to provide national health insurance, the idea has been shut out of the debate as it’s played out in the major media.

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