10 January 2008

Poll shows most want single-payer

Graham at Over My Med Body has the wording on that AP Poll on single-payer — which seems more important to me than to most. I predicted in December that it wouldn't get much play, and indeed it hasn't.
Associated Press-Yahoo Poll
Interview dates: December 14 - 20, 2007

14. Which comes closest to your view?

34% - The United States should continue the current health insurance system in which most people get their health insurance from private employers, but some people have no insurance

65% - The United States should adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers

2% - Refused / Not Answered

15. Do you consider yourself a supporter of a single-payer health care system, that is a national health plan financed by taxpayers in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan, or not?

54% - Yes

44% - No

2% - Refused / Not Answered

I was struck by this comment at Over My Med Body: "... keeping competition and a profit motive in at least parts of the system preserves innovation, and that’s important to me. Getting *EVERYBODY* in the pool and defining a minimum level of benefits that working adults and their families are, in fact, *entitled* to - that’s where we need to start healthcare reform."

First of all, single-payer proposals would keep competition in the system — competition between docs and hospitals, just not between insurance companies.

Second, please explain how insurance companies have anything to do with innovation. They regularly deny covering procedures that are standard in European countries. Here those procedures are "experimental."

Third, as long as insurers are competing with one another to exclude caring for sick people and only covering healthy people, you've got a system where a big chunk of health care dollars might as well be flushed down the toilet. It's simply not sustainable. Even if you do rescind the Bush tax cuts. We can't spend a fifth or a quarter of our GDP on health care — any more than you can spend a fifth or a quarter of your family budget on it. But that's where we're headed with the current system.

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