Lessons from Three Countries with Single Payer

Contact: Dr. Elinor Christensen
August 8, 2004
(312) 782-6006

Statement by Dr. Elinor Christensen on Lessons from Single Payer Health Systems in Scotland, Norway, and Finland

Available for media interviews and lectures on health care reform and the flawed Bush and Kerry health plans

I am a family medicine physician whose medical career of 40 plus years has included private practice, inner city maternal and child health clinics, twenty years of college health, including medical administration, and rural health care in two underserved communities. I learned so much from each of these experiences, serving patients to the best of my ability with a variety of encumberances.

My most satisfying experience was working for twenty years as staff physician and later as medical director at a private university with a mandatory, low cost, comprehensive single payer universal health plan covering all students enrolled in the university. We were able to deliver high quality comprehensive health care at a very reasonable cost because everyone was in a single risk pool. Also the administration of the plan was simple and cost effective.

Since retirement I have spent a week each of three countries with single payer universal health programs which are successful and enthusiastically used and appreciated by their citizens. The countries I have visited are Norway, Finland, and Scotland to study their successful programs including services provided, how it is funded, how it is administered, maximum out of pocket expenditure per person per year, and any problems. These countries are spending half as much per capita as we are spending and having better outcomes because everyone is covered from birth to death and everyone is included in a single risk pool (single payer) and everyone has easy access to the personal physician of their choice. Health education and prevention, as well as early intervention, play an integral part in the success of their universal health care plans and excellent outcomes.

I am available for media interviews and lectures to discuss the successful models of health care that exist in other countries, and to share my personal experience of the savings and administrative simplicity possible under single payer. I am also available to advise public officials and political candidates at all levels of government.

Americans deserve a better health care system that serves everyone. We can design and implement an optimal universal health care plan which meets the needs of our people, lifts the burden from business, and controls skyrocketing health care costs at the same time.

It is time for leaders in medicine and government to have vision and courage and to do the right thing.


Dr. Christensen is a former President of the American Medical Women's Association* and is the co-chair of the Colorado chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, a national organization with over 12,000 members with headquarters in Chicago.

· Affiliation for identification purposes only.