Reading about and listening to the discussions on “repeal/replace” or “fixing” Obamacare, it appears there are enough factions in Congress to keep any meaningful changes from happening. Thus it seems likely that within six to eight years this country will have a single-payer health care system. This is likely to result in several changes to the way medical treatment is delivered.
First, the courts will become more involved in making medical decisions, especially when it comes to expensive or new and/or experimental procedures. The Charlie Gard case in England is a good example of what could happen here with a single-payer system.
Second, with the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), instead of visiting a doctor, a patient will “visit” an AI computer station. The computer station will be equipped to take vital signs just like the nurse in a doctor’s office. It will then ask a series of questions. Based on the patient’s vital signs and responses to the questions, the AI computer will make a diagnosis. If the AI computer determines a visit to a specialist is needed, the patient will be placed on a waiting list to see the appropriate specialist.
Third, elective surgeries will become very difficult to schedule unless you have the money to pay directly for the procedure.
Fourth, for those with enough money to pay for medical services, there will be “concierge doctors” who will treat patients. These services are already available now. With a single-payer system, this type of service is likely to expand. This could impact the number of doctors available to treat the “average” patient. There will truly be a two-tier medical system in the United States.
It will be “A Brave New World” for medicine.