Single Payer: The Back Door (Part 2)
As I demonstrated before, there just isn't the political or popular will to implement an universal single payer health care system in the United States. To push for one could end up hurting the much-needed reform efforts. Even though the Democrats will soon control both the Congress and the Presidency, if they are attacked on both their left and right flank on health care, it could doom any bill.
What the supporters of single payer should focus on is making sure any bill contains a back door. Single payer health care advocates believe that government-run health care is inherently better than health care from a for-profit company. It is true that Medicare has only a fraction of the administrative cost of most health insurance companies. If government-run health care is better, all that is needed is to let people have the option to chose a government-run health insurance plan.
People will quickly flock to whatever insurance plan provides the best, easiest, and lowest priced care. If for-profit insurance companies can't provide the same level of service for the price, they will quickly lose customers. In 10 years, if the majority of individuals are choosing the government insurance plan, it would be much easier to convince the American people to adopt it for the whole country. On the other hand, if the insurance companies manage to provide a better quality of care than the government, they would be able to prove that a push for single payer reform is misguided.
Both Obama's and Senator Max Baucus's plans would allow individuals to buy health insurance from a private company or from a government program. By allowing individuals to choose Medicare (or similar program), they would be providing Americans with a maximum amount of choice. The health insurance companies are determined to prevent people from being able to choose a government-run program. They are afraid of the competition. In many ways this is the best free market solution: let the marketplace determine if government-run or private-run health care is better.