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  • Steven Corn

Waiting For A Single Payer System

Single-payer health care would be great if it can:

1)  Reduce health insurance and medical costs.  (According to Bernie, it will) and
2)  Avoid the very long waits for getting healthcare (as is the case for the UK and Canada).

I don't know how Bernie's proposal addresses point #2.  But it's a real problem in other countries. An opinion piece on CNN Why Single Payer Health Is A Terrible Option discusses some of the challenges that other countries face with a single payer system.

For example, in Canada's single-payer system:

  • The 2016 median wait for neurosurgery after already seeing the doctor was a shocking 46.9 weeks -- about 10 months.

  • The 2016 median wait for a referral from a general practitioner appointment to the specialist appointment was 9.4 weeks

In England: "...over 362,000 patients waited longer than 18 weeks for hospital treatment in March 2017, an increase of almost 64,000 on the previous year; and 95,252 have been waiting more than six months for treatment -- all after already waiting for and receiving initial diagnosis and referral."

When my wife's neurosurgeon decided it was time for surgery, it took only 5 days to get the surgery done. Three of those days were doing pre-op tests. Two of those days were a weekend. I would have gone nuts if we had to wait months to get the surgery.

A single payer health system may be the eventual way to go. Provided, of course, that we can learn  from the challenges that similar systems have had in other countries and not fall into the same traps.

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