Single payer misdiagnosed

By Daniel Schaffer, M.D.
The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.), Letters, Feb. 13, 2016

Robert Samuelson (Feb. 8) claims to be an economist, but he has some obvious blind spots, health care financing being one.

He says a single-payer system such as Medicare for All would not save any money, even though every other industrialized nation using one has been able to achieve significant savings. He says that the overhead of for-profit insurance companies is 6 percent, when every study that has been conducted, including that of the Rand Foundation, has put overhead at 20 percent to 30 percent. It’s about 3 percent for Medicare.

He makes the unsubstantiated claim that universal care will result in over-usage that will negate any savings. In Japan, people utilize the health care system three times more often than Americans do, yet Japan’s system represents only 11 percent of gross domestic product, in contrast to 18 percent for the United States.

Conservatives in other countries love publicly funded health care because it saves money and takes the burden of providing health care off the shoulders of business. Are their conservatives smarter than ours, or are ours just blinded by a misguided ideology?

Some type of universal coverage is inevitable because the current system is destined to crash.

Dr. Daniel Schaffer resides in Spokane.