For a longer FAQ addressing more than 50 questions about single-payer healthcare, visit our allies at Physicians for a National Health Program.
Answer: No. Every healthcare system has to ration its resources, but in the United States we ration based on ability to pay – leaving millions outside of the system – while single-payer systems ration based on medical need. As a profit-driven system, the United States does have problems with wait times for unprofitable forms of care such as primary care, mental health, and even emergency care, while it performs better on income-generating forms of care such as specialty procedures and oncology. Most countries with single-payer do not have wait time problems for any category of care (Commonwealth Fund, 2014), but Canada and England for example have had wait time problems for elective procedures and imaging services due to underfunding of equipment and specialists – particularly when conservative governments have been elected and slashed healthcare budgets. The United States spends two to three times what these countries spend on healthcare per person, and would not experience shortages by switching to a single-payer system.
Answer: Single-payer would replace high, unpredictable premiums with lower, stable taxes. Unless you are among the top 5% of income earners, this would reduce your total healthcare costs.
Answer: No. Under socialized medicine healthcare delivery – hospitals, physicians’ offices, nursing homes, etc. – are public. Countries with socialized medicine provide excellent and affordable care, but single payer only refers to public (and universal) health insurance, not healthcare delivery. Providers would continue to be a mix of public and private, such as we have today.
Yes - because abortion is healthcare.
Healthcare-NOW stands in solidarity with the movement for reproductive justice, which Sister Song defines as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.”
Access to abortion services are highly inequitable based on income, race, geography, insurance status and type – and have become more inequitable since passage of the ACA. While almost 87 percent of employer-sponsored health plans cover medical and surgical abortion services, the “Hyde Amendment” – which has been re-approved every year since 1976 by Congress – prevents federal funds from going towards abortion services. This means that Medicaid and Medicare recipients generally do not have access except in the 17 states that fully fund those services. Furthermore, 25 states ban coverage of abortion services in insurance offered through the state exchanges, and 10 of those states ban abortion coverage in any private insurance plan. Securing reproductive justice requires repealing the Hyde amendment and guaranteeing safe and accessible abortions services at no cost to every woman.
Read Healthcare-NOW's Commitment to Reproductive Justice.
Answer: Many with excellent workplace health insurance have found that a serious illness or injury may cause them to lose their job, and subsequently their health insurance. Furthermore, employers pay the full cost of health insurance out of reduced wages, and health care costs are devastating municipal, state, and federal budgets, cutting into vital public services like education and infrastructure. Single-payer reform means health security that cannot be taken away by misfortune; savings for households, employers and government; and the ability to control cost growth into the future.
Answer: No. Currently private corporations – health insurers – stand between you and your care providers, determining which physicians and hospitals you are allowed to see, imposing deductibles and co-payments that often make appropriate treatments impossible, and refusing to pay for care that your providers deem necessary. Under a single-payer system every resident would have full choice of provider, we could eliminate cost barriers to recommended care, and the only oversight for determining what care is appropriate would be provided by medical experts overseeing their peers – not the government.