If you have watched the news at all recently, you know that healthcare reform is a huge topic of discussion right now. Political leaders are seeking to restructure the healthcare system in the United States, and many of them want to repeal and replace Obamacare. Obamacare, or the health care law formally known as the Affordable Care Act, has been in effect since 2010. The challenge in repealing Obamacare is that there should be a law to replace it with, so politicians are pitching several new ideas for what to do. Some politicians have suggested the idea of having a single payer healthcare system. You may be wondering, what is single payer healthcare and how could it affect senior citizens? Here is some basic information you need to know for understanding single payer healthcare.
The first step in understanding single payer healthcare is to know exactly what it is. Basically, single payer healthcare is when everyone’s medical bills are covered by the same pool of money, which is overseen by the government. Medicaid and Medicare are essentially single payer healthcare systems because the government covers health care costs for members. In a single payer system, this concept would be applied to everyone, not just those who qualify as a result of finances, age, or disabilities, as it is now.
Understanding Single Payer Healthcare: Pros
There are pros and cons to every idea and there are always people who will benefit and people who will lose out after a major change takes place. Those in favor of a single payer healthcare system argue that the benefits are:
- Everyone has Access to Coverage – A single payer health care system would operate similarly to Medicaid or Medicare, so everyone would have access to coverage regardless of their ability to pay for it.
- Costs are Reduced – Other countries that use a single payer healthcare system, such as Canada, have seen healthcare costs decline. For example, Canada is spending $2,233 less per person than the United States is, and Canada’s population has a higher life expectancy rate and lower infant mortality rates.
- Private Plan Options – There will still be private insurance plan options despite the fact that in a single payer healthcare system the government operates a large pool of health insurance that ensures everyone has access to basic coverage benefits. People would still be able to buy a private health insurance plan to enhance the benefits they receive from the government. It’s a very similar concept to Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans.
Understanding Single Payer Healthcare: Cons
Those who disagree with the idea of single payer healthcare claim that it will:
- Create Longer Wait Times – Since more people will have insurance coverage and therefore be able to access healthcare, there could be longer wait times. This will especially be true for specialty physician visits.
- Increase Taxes – The government will need a way to pay for the single payer healthcare system, so it will most likely raise taxes to do so.
- No Ability to Choose – Ultimately, there will be fewer choices for people when it comes to the type of healthcare coverage they can have since all policies will be overseen by the federal government.
Understanding Single Payer Healthcare Impact on Seniors
If the nation were to switch to a single payer healthcare system, it most likely wouldn’t mean too many changes for most seniors. Since a single payer healthcare system operates similarly to Medicare and Medicaid, which many seniors are already using right now, it wouldn’t be much of an adjustment for them. However, other seniors, such as those who are still working, could be impacted by a change such as this. Some experts speculate that seniors who are not already using government programs could be negatively impacted by a single payer healthcare system, while advocates believe it will benefit everyone.
Now that you have a better understanding of single payer healthcare, what are your thoughts about this idea for health care reform?