Monday, March 12, 2018

The False Promise of Single-Payer Health Care By Sally C. Pipes

In The False Promise of Single-Payer Health Care, Sally C. Pipes, President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, makes the case against single-payer by offering evidence of its devastating effects on patients in Canada, the United Kingdom, and even the United States. Long wait times, substandard care, lack of access to innovative treatments, huge public outlays, and spiraling costs are endemic to single-payer. Those are hardly outcomes we should consider foisting upon the American health care system.

Analysts believe a government takeover of the U.S. health care system has never looked more plausible. Support for the idea is at an all-time high, according to Gallup. Two-thirds of Democratic voters favor “single-payer” health care; even one in four Republicans is on board. But let’s take a look at the United Kingdom's single-payer system, for instance, which is in appalling turmoil. Most would agree that it would be foolish to import that failed model.

In this booklet, you’ll learn:

·     What “single-payer” really means;
·     That if single-payer were to take hold in the U.S., private insurance coverage would be outlawed;
·     That 160 million people - roughly half the population - would lose their private coverage;
·     About the single-payer nightmare in the UK and Canada;
·     That the supposedly “free” care offered by countries like Canada comes at an extremely high cost;
·     About “illegal” private clinics in Canada which perform 60,000 surgeries per year on patients who choose to pay for their own care; and
·     That the Canadian single-payer system doesn’t cover dental care, vision care, long-term care, or prescription drugs.

The UK’s NHS (National Health Service) has rationed care for decades. But wait times and delays have gotten markedly worse in recent months. The NHS recently canceled 55,000 non-urgent operations in order to cope with heightened demand during the winter flu season. Some hospitals have also cancelled urgent procedures for patients with conditions like cancer and heart disease. Last month, nearly 15 percent of emergency-room patients had to wait more than four hours to be seen by a physician.

Furthermore, in 2017, the NHS announced that anyone who was overweight or a smoker would be denied nonurgent surgery - rationing, pure and simple. Other recent policies required patients to be in varying degrees of pain, while some clinical commissioning groups had imposed bans on surgery for several months to save money.

To call this situation "universal healthcare," as single-payer defenders always do, is simply absurd. No amount of money can fix a system in which government bureaucrats, and not markets, determine how to distribute healthcare resources. And Canada and the UK aren’t outliers; whenever governments try to overrule the laws of supply and demand, the results are rationing, shortages, and runaway costs.

About the Author: Sally C. Pipes is president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank, and the Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at PRI. She is the author of The Way Out of ObamacareThe Cure for Obamacare; The Pipes Plan; and The Truth About Obamacare. Ms. Pipes also writes bi-weekly columns for and Investor’s Business Daily, and blogs for the Washington Examiner.

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