Single-payer plan is best health care solution

By Thomas P. Clairmont, M.D.
Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald, Letters, April 20, 2013

The Chidester (op-ed) correctly identifies the problems in health care today: uncontrolled costs and the rising number of uninsured.

He advocates for a simple solution, but fails to deliver one.

His numbers are absolutely wrong. A review of the Census Bureau Web site clearly states that the uninsured number for 2010 was 49,904,000. His number is one-sixth of that. However, it doesn't really matter. At Physicians for a National Health Program, we feel that one uninsured person is too many. This is reflected in our motto: Everybody In, Nobody Out.

He then advocates for free markets as the solution, comparing buying health insurance to purchasing cell phones and computers. Free markets have been around for a long time, giving us premium increases multiple times inflation for the past decade. Just this week, the Herald reported the York School Department is facing a 13 percent increase in health care premiums. Health care inflation for 2012 was only 3.7 percent.

Free markets don't work in health care. Every business wants more customers. In health insurance, however, that isn't true. They only want the healthy, who won't hurt their bottom line of excessive profits, inordinate executive compensation and returns to stockholders.

Chidester then says he wants a simple solution. OK, so does everyone else. Let's look at the Vermont Plan, authored by Harvard economics Professor William Hsiao. He outlined four goals:

(1) Universal health insurance coverage; (2) provision to every Vermont resident of an adequate standard benefits package and equal access to health care; (3) control of the rapidly escalating costs of health care in Vermont; and (4) establishment of a system that prioritizes community-based preventive and primary care, as well as integrated health care delivery.

He accomplishes this with a single-payer plan that dramatically reduces administrative expenses. In fact, his plan will immediately reduce health care costs in Vermont by 8-12 percent and reduce health care costs by an additional 12-14 percent over time. Keep in mind that every resident is covered and they won't have to decide which policy they want, with what combination of co-payments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs that are a deterrent to good health. Now that is a simple plan. Do you want the Chidester plan or complete health care security for you and your family?

Dr. Thomas P. Clairmont resides in Portsmouth, N.H.