Why single payer

July 18, 2014

Times Argus

Although not his intention, George Malek’s commentary (“Reallocating health care costs,” July 14) was an excellent case on why we need publicly funded universal care.

Mr. Malek, the executive director of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, stated, “Some employers offer platinum health care plans, others no plan at all.” This has been a persistent problem with market-based health insurance. The so-called free market does not treat businesses equally, especially small businesses. Small businesses are forced out of offering coverage or, if they can afford it, use plans subpar to larger businesses. Never mind that employees are locked to jobs or unable to start businesses due to health insurance worries.

Malek wrote that the “financial void will be split between the rationing of care and additional taxes.” In case Malek did not know this, we already have both. We possess the world’s most effective means of rationing access to health care: economics. The 50 or so million uninsured Americans testify to its effectiveness, the insured footing the bill through higher insurance premiums and taxes. Although the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) may mitigate these shameful conditions, it will not end them.

The best case, however, Malek offers for single-payer was when he wrote that “as the cost to the consumer goes down, utilization goes up. If it’s free, take two.” First, single-payer is not free. Secondly, what is wrong with a health care system that all citizens (as opposed to consumers), regardless of their employment status, can use? Is not the job of a health care system to cure people?

Single-payer eliminates the inherent discrepancies of the insurance model which drives up the inequality and rations access to health care by cost. What better rationale for single-payer?

Walter Carpenter