Many experts have long agreed that a so-called "single-payer" plan is the ideal, because competition among private insurers who pay health-care bills inevitably causes them to spend big bucks trying to find and market policies to healthy and younger people at relatively low risk of health problems while avoiding sicker and older people with higher risks (and rejecting those with pre-existing conditions altogether), and also contesting and litigating many claims. A single payer saves all this money and focuses on caring for sick people and preventing the healthy from becoming sick. The other advantage of a single payer is it can use its vast bargaining power to negotiate lower prices from pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and suppliers.
Not surprisingly, insurance and drug companies have been dead-set against a single payer for years. And they've so frightened the public into thinking that "single payer" means loss of choice of doctor (that's wrong -- many single payer plans in other nations allow choices of medical deliverers) that politicians no longer even mention it [Robert Reich, "The Health Care Cave-In," TPMCafé, 2009.05.18].
President Obama won't even let single-payer advocates sit at the table. Reich complains that the Obama Administration is backing away even from a public plan designed to compete with rather than replace the private system. Reich makes a compelling argument that all of the compromise alternatives—regional and state-level public plans, national plan bound by private-insurer rules—would leave us in the same mess we're in now, with profiteers pushing costs and leaving people out in the cold.
Dennis, it's time for a little heck-raising in the House. Let's push for single-payer to pull the compromise back to our side.