A fiscally conservative businessman says single payer would be better

Why I’m finally ready to agree a single-payer healthcare system would be better for business

By Gene Marks
The Washington Post, April 28, 2017

My wife is English and one of the biggest surprises she had when moving to this country was healthcare. “I don’t understand why my employer is involved in my healthcare,” she said back then – and still says today. After years of listening to that argument, I’m starting to understand what she means.

I can’t believe I’m saying this. I consider myself a smaller-government, fiscally right-of-center guy. I own a small business. I want lower taxes and less regulations. And yet, after watching and studying and writing about healthcare reform for going on 10 years I think I’m finally to the point of caving in and admitting that maybe, just maybe, a single-payer system would be what’s best for businesses, including businesses like mine.

Every year I speak and work with thousands of business owners and managers and each and every one of them are terrified come summertime when healthcare rates for the next year are announced. Every year – and I mean every year – my clients have suffered with double-digit increases in their healthcare costs. Sure, they are pushing more of these costs down to their employees. But most are still covering a large part of the health insurance offered to their people.

We spend too much time trying to figure out ways to reduce our healthcare insurance – which, to many represents a significant line item on our income statements. This time distracts us from ways to grow our businesses. But we have to do this because we have to offer a healthcare benefit. Our employees expect it. Our competitors are offering theirs. The labor pool is tight. My wife asks “why?” So do I.

We’re at the point where many of my clients – and many who are fiscally right-of-center like me – would seriously consider an individual tax increase and all the risks of a single-payer system just to take this headache away from our businesses so we can focus on…well…our businesses.



By Don McCanne, M.D.

Placing health financing decisions into the hands of employers for a majority of Americans is a historical fluke and continuing to do so defies logic. A single payer national health program would end this nonsense (not to mention providing affordable, comprehensive health care for everyone).