As the Review-Journal’s Monday editorial described, single-payer health care would be a major reversal from the private patchwork system we have now in this country. But since most countries would never have a private system like we have, it might be time to see why other countries do have single-payer.
As a 70-year-old retired military officer, I feel fortunate to have never had to buy private health care in my life. I’ve used single-payer systems here and overseas and found them all better than what my relatives have with their private systems. The biggest benefit, besides coverage, is that with two of the systems (Medicare and Tricare) I choose my own doctor. Private systems often require you to take a doctor in a certain network.
Additionally, while Medicaid is often rejected by some doctors, I have never had a doctor turn away Medicare or Tricare insurance. I found these two U.S. systems better than the government-run British National Health Service, though I found that was better than what many Americans get, and they took excellent care of my children at no cost to me.
I would also say many conservative businessmen in Europe told me that they embrace single-payer health care as it is one less item they have to provide or negotiate over with unions.
Single-payer is not perfect, but as my Canadian colleagues tell me, everyone is covered, and it is rare for a citizen there to have to come to the United States — probably more rare than Americans going into Canada to buy prescription drugs. As former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich told me recently, we will eventually get to single-payer. But obviously the current Congress will not pursue it. Fortunately, surveys show a majority of Americans would support this system — ask seniors how they like Medicare.