One of the reputedly smartest guys I know who teaches at this little place called Harvard Medical School suggested to me the other night that one of the things we ought to seriously consider is a Single Payer system of health care financing. I'm trying to figure out why. As I look at the Wiki entry, it says what it sorta is and what it sorta is not, but it doesn't give me any indication why it is supposed to work other than to show that other countries do it, sorta.
What is fundamentally different about health care that makes it difficult to insure? I mean, nobody suggests that we have a single payer automobile insurance system or single payer home insurance. I think that's a relatively easy question. I think it's because single payer is an attempt to standardize pricing or otherwise force all the parties involved to work from the same set of assumptions.
One of the things I would like to see is a more transparent pricing mechanism and some standards, but I would rather see those standards evolve in the market. Part of the problem is that I'm not sure that insuruers or providers have any incentive to standardize.
If you're like me, you deal with this open enrollement & election benefits period once a year, in the fall. Then you probably never change your coverage unless and until you change employers. Which means you probably buy cars more often then insurance. We all understand that we can get taken if we're not accustomed to shopping for cars. So shopping insurance, being a rare thing, is something we cannot get a good sense of as consumers - not like other more frequently purchased goods. Again, I think this fact plays to the insurers resistence to standards.
I also understand that there are factors that make doctors more or less likely to practice in a state and that this plays into the quality of health care available.Is it possible to have a Single Payer system without government monopoly control of the entire process, or are they tantamount to the same thing? Have all Single Payer proponents despaired of a private solution?