The Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court, aka “Obamacare,” contains very significant improvements at slightly lower cost (nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office). However, that lower cost still may be unsustainable. Is single-payer the answer?
The Canadian single-payer health care system costs only 60 percent of the present U.S. system, with better results (life expectancy, infant mortality, etc.). And despite misleading ads by U.S. insurance companies, implying that one dissatisfied Canadian speaks for all, the Canadian system is also very popular. The evidence? First, when May 2011 elections gave Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper a conservative majority in Parliament so he could pass any conservative legislation he wanted, he quickly assured Canadians he wouldn’t change the single-payer system. Second, Tommy Douglas, the Baptist minister who introduced the single-payer system in the 1960s, was accordingly voted greatest Canadian of all time in a 2004 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation survey.
Toronto University researchers said the U.S. could save $27.6 billion yearly by adopting Canada’s single-payer system (National Journal, 8/4/11). Doctors’ time and money dealing with multiple insurance companies would be reduced. A Reuters 2008 survey showed 59 percent of U.S. doctors prefer such a system, up from 49 percent in 2002.