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One phrase that has cropped up repeatedly as the U.S. government works to find a solution to the country's healthcare problem is "single-payer health care system." Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding this system, making it difficult for many to understand what a single-payer system is, and just as importantly, what it isn't.
Currently, many Nevada residents rely on a health insurance plan for protection from the high cost of medical care and access to necessary routine and preventative care. Oftentimes, this health insurance is provided through employer-sponsored programs into which employees pay for coverage for themselves and their families.
However, not everyone has access to an employer-sponsored plan. In these instances, an individual health insurance plan may be purchased through the Marketplace. This generally has higher out-of-pocket costs but is considerably more affordable than the medical bills that would arise in the event of a major illness or injury.
Unfortunately, for many, health insurance is a significant cost burden. Even those who have access to an employer-sponsored plan may have a hard time affording their monthly premium.
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One solution that has been offered as a way to reduce healthcare costs is a single-payer health care system. This system is one in which there is one party, or payer, that collects all health care fees and covers all health care costs.
In theory, a single-payer system could reduce medical costs because there would be significantly fewer entities involved in the system, thus cutting down on administrative costs. Rather than billing individual insurance companies, healthcare providers would bill one entity for the medical services provided. Patients would continue to receive comprehensive medical care as well as the freedom to choose their medical care provider.
Medicare is an example of a mostly single-payer health care system that we currently have in place. Medicare beneficiaries have private insurers to choose from, but the government is the main purchaser.
While single-payer healthcare has been generically referred to as socialized medicine, it is, in fact, a vastly different than socialized health care. With socialized medicine, the government owns the hospitals, purchases the technology, such as MRI scanners and X-ray machines, and employs doctors, nurses and specialists. This system is used around the world with varying degrees of success.
Single-payer health care, however, is not the same thing as socialized medicine. While there is a common payer in charge of covering a majority of the medical care, that payer does not own the technology or the hospitals, and it does not employ the medical care providers. Furthermore, the payer is not necessarily the federal government; in theory, it could be the state or even a health insurance company that secured 100 percent of the market share.
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To find out more about current health insurance options, consider speaking with a health insurance agent.
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