Is a Single-Payer System our Health Salvation?

By Gregory L. Sheehy, M.D.
The New York Times, Letters, May 23, 2016

Re “Why a Single-Payer Plan Would Still Be Really Costly” (The Upshot, May 17):

As a physician who favors a single-payer plan, I cannot disagree with your analysis about the high cost of moving to this type of health care plan.

Our present system is really all about profit — from the medical device makers to the pharmaceutical industry to health care workers and medical administrators to insurance companies. The challenge to bring down costs, under this system or single-payer, is large.

Yet we have seen what the free market has done over the last 70 years, and it has not been a success in terms of cost control. Indeed, health care costs are going to get significantly worse if we continue our present system, a combination of private and government payment.

Only a single-payer system has any chance to control costs yet guarantee that all citizens will have health care coverage. To stand pat with free-market fervor or to go backward, such as eliminating the Affordable Care Act, will deprive many of medical care while still driving up costs.

In the long run, the present system will cost far more than a single-payer option, and the sooner we proceed in that direction the better.

Dr. Gregory L. Sheehy is a retired internist. He resides in Middleton, Wis.