New York Times Features Interview With Physician Who Advocates Single-Payer Health Care System
The New York Times on Tuesday published an interview with Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and an internist at Cambridge Hospital, who supports a single-payer health care system. In August, Woolhandler and colleagues published a proposal in the Journal of the American Medical Association that called for a single-payer health care system and a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on the administrative costs of the U.S. health care system. According to Woolhandler, the United States should implement a single-payer health care system that would expand traditional Medicare to cover all U.S. residents; physicians would receive reimbursements on a fee-for-service basis, and hospitals would receive a set budget each month. Under the system, the federal government would cover the full cost of prescription drugs, and U.S. residents would not make copayments or pay deductibles for medications or physician visits. Woolhandler said that administrative costs, which account for about 31% of U.S. health care expenditures, have led to high health care costs in the United States and that the implementation of a single-payer health care system could save the United States $209 billion per year through the elimination of the high overhead and profits of private health insurers. In addition, she said that waiting lists for certain procedures in Canada, as well as other nations with single-payer health care systems, result because the "system is underfunded, not because it's structurally wrong." Woolhandler added that the passage of the Medicare bill (HR 1) last month has made the "reasons for moving ahead" with a single-payer health care system "even larger" because U.S. residents are "going to see more money spent on administrative costs than before" and because the legislation "doesn't even benefit seniors, much less extend benefits to everyone else" (Foreman, New York Times, 12/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.