SINGLE PAYER—IMPROVED MEDICARE FOR ALL:
WHAT IS IT? WHO WANTS IT?
What is Single Payer? There are many definitions of “Single Payer/ Improved Medicare for All” in public discourse. The two terms—”Single Payer,” and “Improved Medicare for All” –are used almost interchangeably, depending on which one better communicates to a particular audience the concept of “privately delivered, publicly funded” health care (much like Canada’s “Medicare”).
It is easy to feel confused about what Single Payer health care is. In fact, there are people profiting from the current exploitative (and inefficient) medical system who are working hard to keep us confused.
To clarify the terms: “Single Payer” means that there is “one” (single) entity that processes all payments (such as in traditional Medicare, it is the government) rather than the current insurance “multiple-payer” system with hundreds of companies and thousands of policies that need to be accessed and processed, requiring almost as many billing clerks as beds in hospitals, and dedicated staff for health providers.
The “Medicare for All” name was chosen because in surveys since the 1990s (e.g Kaiser studies), the term “Single Payer” had no clear meaning for the general public. By contrast, most people have heard of Medicare and understand a bit about it…and can’t wait to get on it. People are fearful of the unknown, and in this way, they can relate it to a known entity. The “expanded and improved Medicare for All” program being proposed builds on the established infrastructure and several generations of experience with our 50+ year-old “single payer” system.The term “expanded” means that it will cover everyone from cradle to grave, and “improved” means that it will cover more than original Medicare; it will cover all necessary medical services.
These pages attempt to show that “Improved and Expanded Medicare for All” is a much simpler and more cost-effective system than the patchwork of corporate plans that we have now. Medicare for All provides a better plan than even “platinum” or traditional Medicare currently provides. Furthermore, it is more just, and by preventing much of the medical debt burdening Americans today, it will lift an estimated 20% of our population out of poverty (Breunig, 2019). It is also a business stimulus, reducing the most difficult and unpredictable aspects of running a business.
In this section of the Toolkit, we have gathered…
- Overviews and talking points that we find helpful.
- The original articles by Himmelstein and Woolhandler in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1989 that introduced what a “national health program” could be, as well as a 2016 update.
ORIGINAL ARTICLES LAYING OUT A NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM FOR THE U.S.
- 2016 “Beyond the Affordable Care Act: A Physicians’ Proposal for Single Payer Health Care Reform” (by a 39-member working group of PNHP, including Himmelstein & Woolhandler).
- From LWV-AZ (North West Maricopa County)
● Q-and-A Handbook, “Facts vs. Myths for a Better Understanding of Medicare for All, Problems, Solutions, and How YOU Fit In,” 4-20-19 (21 pages)
- Comparison Sheet “Single Payer/Medicare for All vs Public Options”
- From LWV-MA (in conjunction with Western Mass Medicare for All) “What is Single Payer?” (printed to be folded in 4)