Single-payer healthcare system will improve health in the United States


My husband’s parents live in a small town north of Venice, Italy. A few years ago, her father needed a hip replacement. After months of waiting, the date for the operation has been set.

As he limped from the car door at the entrance to the hospital, he collapsed. He was loaded onto a stretcher at the cardiology unit. They found that he had severe aortic stenosis and proceeded to replace his aortic valve. Then, after a few months of recovery, he was able to complete the trip from the car to the operating room without incident, and he received his hip replacement.

With single-payer health care, my in-laws didn’t have to worry about a bill. And because of his exposure to the exorbitant medical costs associated with the disease in the United States, my husband was able to fully appreciate the benevolence of Italy’s single-payer system.

Fortunately, this episode happened in 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic made the hospital an even more worrying destination. To date, more than 600,000 people, or nearly 0.2% of the US population, have died from this devastating new disease. While there are a myriad of ways the United States was ill-prepared for a pandemic, our aggressively capitalist healthcare system certainly hasn’t helped.

The implementation of single-payer health care in the United States would improve medical care and health for the nation, and not too soon.

There are a few obvious flaws in our current health care system. Medical bills contribute to half of all personal bankruptcies, and three-quarters of bankrupt people had health insurance at the time they became ill or injured. Perhaps more worrisome is the price we pay in human lives than the high financial cost of America’s for-profit health care system. Those who cannot afford health insurance are also less likely to seek medical attention, which affects health outcomes. The Institute of Medicine has estimated that each year, 18,314 Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 die from a lack of health insurance, which is comparable to the number of deaths from diabetes, stroke or death. a homicide.

The solution lies in a single payer scheme, including a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHI). NHI systems are publicly funded, and health care providers are reimbursed from tax-financed funds.


A well-known example of an NHI system is that of Canada, which provides excellent medical care funded solely by taxes. Another example is Medicare, which provides medical care to the elderly in the United States through a progressive tax.

A review of major national health plans found that universal coverage models spend less than they cover everyone. They also found that barriers related to single payer costs and direct payments were half of the amount reported in the United States.

An often-criticized disadvantage of single-payer systems is the wait time. This is actually a valid claim as my step dad waited a few months for his hip replacement. Single-payer systems have longer wait times for elective surgeries, but they work as well as the United States or better for urgent medical care.

The New York Health Act is a single payer proposal for New York State. Under this bill, funding for NY Health, as the plan would be called, would come from a graduated tax schedule. Under NY Health, all New Yorkers would be covered and the average New York family would pay significantly less for health care, even though their premium is currently subsidized by an employer. New York’s health care law has been passed by the Assembly several times, but has remained stuck in the Senate.

While the passage of this bill is a boon to single-payer supporters, what we really need is a single payer for all Americans, and we need it now.

Mary Rossillo, from New York, is a medical student at NYU Grossman School of Medicine pursuing a residency in internal medicine.

Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage of the U.S. population who died from COVID-19.


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