In summary

Single-payer systems in economically advanced capitalist countries like ours produce better health at much lower costs.

By Harry Snyder, Santa Cruz

Harry Snyder is a lecturer at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

Re “The California Legislature is back: What to expect in 2022”; Politics, Jan. 7, 2022

The rundown key issues for 2022 portends explosive health issues. The biggest enchilada is Gov. Gavin Newsom’s promise of a single-payment health care system covering all Californians and his commission report to recommend how to fulfill his promise is due this month.

For decades studies of single-payer systems around the world have produced evidence that these systems in economically advanced capitalist countries like ours produce better health, at much lower cost for everyone in the country.

UC Berkeley Professor Richard Scheffler, a member of Newsom’s commission on designing a single-payer system, recently wrote, “If this (single-payer) approach were to be adopted, it could lead to significant structural improvements in health equity.” Scheffler adds: “A single electronic health record system would improve interoperability for data exchange among providers and enhance the quality of health care for all.”

The opposition will argue that it costs too much, doctors will leave California, jobs will be lost, hospitals will close and taxes will be raised. They leave out that costs will be offset because we won’t pay the health insurance premiums, co-pays or deductibles and that the single-payer countries studied have competitive capitalist economies.

Similar fear-mongering was also used in 1988, when the insurance industry was gouging California drivers, residents and businesses. Our elected officials did nothing and consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield drafted and put Proposition 103 on the ballot to regulate and bring down auto, home and business insurance rates. Californians passed Prop. 103, and insurance companies, agents, brokers and adjusters are still here. We still have insurance and Californians have saved billions on auto insurance since 1989.

Hopefully, Newsom can do what Rosenfield did for auto insurance: bring better health care at lower costs for all Californians.  

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