Single-payer is the better system

By Samuel Metz, M.D.
The Register-Guard (Eugene, Ore.), Letters, Nov. 24, 2015

In his Nov. 21 letter, Reginald Jensen expressed many opinions about single-payer health care, none of which was substantiated.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Kaiser Family Foundation, Commonwealth Fund, and even the CIA, Americans pay nearly twice as much for health care as our European colleagues, whether measured by per-capita spending or percentage of income.

Despite our doubled health care costs, we don’t enjoy the medical security of other industrialized countries, many (not all) of which use single-payer health care. We’re the only country that doesn’t guarantee universal health care. We’re the only country whose citizens suffer medical bankruptcy paying for treatable diseases.

Despite higher costs, our public health measures (e.g., maternal mortality, diabetic complications, hospitalizations for uncontrolled asthma) place us near or at the bottom of the industrialized world.

Wait times in the United States are the longest in the industrialized world. We lose 45,000 people each year who are killed by their disease while waiting for money to pay for treatment. That’s unknown in other industrialized countries.

In every population where it’s used, here or abroad, single-payer health care provides better care to more people for less money than America’s private health care insurance. That wasn’t changed by the Affordable Care Act.

Harlan Ellison said, “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” Jensen’s opinion was singularly uninformed.

Samuel Metz, M.D., resides in Portland.