Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

May 1, 2014

Single-payer system won't save U.S. health care

(Continued)

The problem with this idea is that U.S. health insurers already buy in bulk. They cover more people than many of the countries cited as cost-control models for the U.S.:

But we already have a public option. As mentioned, we have several. And Medicare doesn’t control costs noticeably better than the private sector does:

On the other hand, seniors vote, and thus, politicians are very reluctant to tinker with reimbursements. Prices are set the way that other governments set them — by a centralized committee. But they’re set high.

There are two potential outcomes for a “public option” health insurer: It could set rates high, in which case it wouldn’t control costs, or it could jam them down to Medicaid levels, in which case no one but the very healthy or the very desperate would buy that insurance because it will be hard to actually use that coverage.

That brings us to the most sophisticated version of the argument: that we can use monopoly power to bring our health-care spending in line with that of other countries. As long as there is private-sector competition, the argument goes, prices will stay high, because doctors can refuse to accept government reimbursement.

But if the government is the single provider of health care (or at least, the single price setter), then we can drive down reimbursements and drug prices to something approaching European levels.

This idea has a number of problems, starting with its constitutionality. Here’s a big one:

Think that’s just because conservative ideologues are preventing the government from doing its job and controlling costs? Well, here’s an even bigger problem with the idea that getting government involved is going to bring our costs down:

What you don’t see is any government cutting health spending by any significant amount. Oh, Germany managed, once. Canada kept it level for a while. But no one has cut by anything like 35 to 40 percent — which is what we’d need to get our spending in line with Canada’s.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Remember the pledge Editor:The county board chairman is not being factual with his recent comments concerning the Public Safety Tax Pledge made by the 2004-2010 County Board.First of all, the debt we were facing was caused by the foolish actions of nine board members of

    July 31, 2014

  • Back to the future for death penalty? The surreal national debate over the death penalty reached a climax of sorts July 23 in a prison execution chamber in Florence, Arizona. Double murderer Joseph Wood was put to death by lethal injection shortly after his lawyers went to the Supreme Co

    July 31, 2014

  • Reduce property tax Editor:The regular July meeting of the Rend Lake Conservancy District Board of Trustees is always interesting, and this year was no different. It is at this meeting that the board makes the annual tax levy for the district. Like every year, the debat

    July 31, 2014

  • Away from the tyranny ‘Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency,” the late poet Maya Angelou reflected in an interview with USA Today in 1988. “We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”What a poem Angelou might have written about

    July 31, 2014

  • No Headline Provided House and Senate conferees have agreed on a $17 billion bill to address the scandal over poor health-care service at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation is now on a fast track to pass Congress before its August recess, showing that Re

    July 31, 2014

  • Shackled by 'dead men' In theory, the American people’s elected representatives decide every so often how much to tax the public and how to allocate the revenue among various priorities, both short-term and long-term. In practice, however, Congress and the president have a

    July 31, 2014

  • Close the tax loophole that sends US corporations overseas Since we last overhauled our federal tax code, in 1986, countries around the world have lowered their tax rates, leaving the United States with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed word. At the same time, the system has become full of inef

    July 29, 2014

  • Israel and the U.S.: Whose survival instinct is stronger? There’s something darkly coincidental in the fact that the latest weapon to be deployed against the survival instinct of both Israel and the United States is an alleged “heartlessness” when it comes to children. The people of Israel are castigated in

    July 29, 2014

  • College cost isn't big problem for poor students To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting mo

    July 29, 2014

  • Ducks, geese a blessing I would like to respond to the “Geese and ducks causing problems in Veterans Park” article that was published in the Mt. Vernon Register-News on July 16, 2014. I must share that I do understand that at times there have been a great number of the Cana

    July 29, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks