Single payer: A common sense approach to health care

By Leigh Dakin

Nationally, health care has emerged as a central issue in this election.  Rightly so, with nearly 50 million Americans without health insurance and the cost of insurance and health care growing much faster than our incomes.

State Rep. Leigh Dakin

The United States spends far more on health care than any other country: on average $8,000 per person per year, with just under half paid for by government programs (primarily the federal government).

An article in the April issue of The Annals of Family Medicine presents a startling conclusion: With current trends, the average family will spend half of its income on health care by 2021 — just nine years from now.
Obviously, something must be done to control health-care costs while expanding coverage.
Proposals to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act and convert Medicare into a voucher system would increase the number of uninsured while failing to address costs.  This is neither a plan nor a solution.

The Affordable Health Care Act has some excellent features ensuring that women do not have to pay more for coverage than men, precluding insurance companies from refusing to provide health coverage due to pre-existing conditions and extending coverage to dependent children until they are 26.  This act will substantially reduce the number of uninsured but falls short of taking the steps necessary to contain health care costs.
This is why I strongly support Vermont’s Green Mountain Care, a single-payer system that expands coverage while managing costs.
In 1970, health-care costs were 7% of our economy but today these costs have increased to nearly 20%.  Canada, with a single-payer system, also spent 7% on health care in 1970 but today health care consumes only 10% of their economy, comparable to Germany but more than the United Kingdom.

Despite our premium costs, life expectancy in the United States is shorter than other developed countries and health care in the United States has been ranked below average for developed countries  — primarily because of the high number of people excluded from coverage.
We can and should do a better job of providing health care to everyone.  A single-payer system will reduce administrative costs, allow you to choose which doctors and hospitals you want to use, and attract doctors who want to practice medicine rather than spending their time maneuvering insurance roadblocks.
It is time we got what we are paying for in health care.

Leigh Dakin is the state representative to Montpelier for Andover, Baltimore, Chester and Springfield.

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  1. Judy Verespy says:

    Thank you Leigh for an informative and easy to understand article on an important issue!