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The Mass Media

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Single Payer


“Single Payer” is a health care financing mechanism where a single entity – the government – is in charge of collection of money and reimbursement of providers. The financing includes collection of money from the people through employment taxes and providing reimbursement for services for everybody covered under a universal health care plan. Increased taxes would not mean increased financial burden on people because this expense would be offset by reduction in costs through elimination of expensive health insurance premiums and “out-of-pocket” expenses for medical supplies. In simple words, “Single Payer” means provision of universal health insurance to all the people (citizens and non-citizens) of United States. Also it is important to note that “Single Payer” is not the only way to achieve universal health care, there can be “Multi Payer” mechanism and still universal health care as in Japan and Germany.

 Going back in history, the declaration of Alma-Ata: International Conference on Primary Health Care, Alma-Ata, USSR, 6-12 September 1978, affirmed thathealthis a fundamental human right& pointed to Primary Health Care as the key to attaining health for all. It has urged action in the spirit of social justice. The US signed and agreed to these provisions, but yet we are the only nation that has not followed through with a universal healthcare plan!

 What Happened to Alma Ata in the US? We definitely don’t have “health for all”. Our current system has multiple payers (government, insurance companies, employers, individuals) and employer based insurance (private insurance). We also have Medicaid, Medicare, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and Veterans Administration (VA) Health Care which works exactly like “Single Payer”. Still we have over 50 million people uninsured andover 25 million people who are underinsured. This is a BIG HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION. We still have lower quality health outcomes, extremely expensive and unsustainable insurance policies which cost approximately $8,160 per person per year which is almost as twice as any other industrialized country. One of the main reasons we have such a messed up situation is because private insurance is based on profitability. It covers its profits, skyrocketing executive salaries, marketing and lobbying costs from increasing premiums, “cherry-picking” its beneficiaries and declining insurance for existing health problems. Despite the soaring health care costs we still have unequal access to health care. Poor people, minorities, immigrants and unemployed, underemployed all are getting the short end of the stick. Our current system is not working, it is inadequate, and is not sustainable! We can end this situation and move forward by supporting and enacting “Single Payer” financing.

 In response to how the “Single Payer” health care option would affect Umass Boston’s student community, we have listed some of the advantages that “Single Payer” would bring with it. There will be better access to health care for all. You will choose your providers, they are not chosen by your insurance companies. There would be portability: no ties with your job which gets you out of the job-lock phenomenon and allows freedom to start small businesses. Pay less and enjoy better health outcomes. Enjoy Preventive care as “Single Payer” promotes preventative care services. There will be increased autonomy – get the powers in your hands rather than the insurance companies governing what you can and cannot access.