What is a single-payer health system?

Sometimes referred to as “Medicare for all,” single-payer care is set up to cover all residents of a state or nation equally. It is paid for by a single public or quasi-public agency, typically through the collection of taxes, and overseen by that agency.

Some systems incorporate contributions from employers, or from individuals in the same way Medicare recipients pay a monthly fee based on income. Patients usually continue to get care from private medical providers. But insurance through employers becomes unnecessary. The government takes over.

Medicare is the simplest example for Americans of a single-payer system. It’s the oldest such program in the country. But it isn’t the only one available.