Despite its problems and issues, single-payer system is still a reasonably good answer to healthcare insurance problems in the U.S. However there are some changes we might need to introduce in order improve single-payer system and to minimize the problems associated with national healthcare insurance. Instead of completely replacing it with multi-payer insurance system, countries like South Africa and Australia have adopted another measure. This measure is meant to improve single-payer system while still fully retaining it. These countries have introduced expansion in the role played by private insurance companies. This means while everyone has access to healthcare with single-payer system, if they still need additional benefits, they can buy private insurance. Preker et al. (2) explains: "Expanding the role of private insurance alongside a universal single-payer insurer is one way of balancing the tradeoffs between single and multi-payer insurance systems….Private insurance coverage can accommodate consumer needs that are not met by the single-payer insurer." (p. 312)
Along with single-payer system, some other options have also emerged including health savings account (HSA) which is a program available to taxpayers in the U.S. This discount medical plan allows workers in the U.S. To contribute to their own healthcare at subsidized rate. The money deposited in this account is not taxable and hence gives greater access to quality healthcare to those enrolled in the plan. In the U.S., it was introduced in 2003 and so far only 10% of companies across the country offer this plan to its workers. The best thing about H.S.A is that enrollees can withdraw money for healthcare needs at any time without worrying about tax. However if money is removed for needs other than healthcare, some penalties may apply. H.S.A was part of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act signed in 2003 and since then it has seen moderate success in the U.S. While some may refuse to see the benefits that it offers, many workers in small sized firms are readily embracing this plan which shows that it is definitely one option we can keep in our national healthcare system.
Therefore when national healthcare system is discussed, we cannot depend on one option alone. For a country which is as big and as populous as the U.S., one type of insurance plan or healthcare access plan cannot be sufficient. It may work for some countries but for the U.S., we need more than a single-payer system or a multi-payer system alone. What we require is to have multiple options over and above the single-payer system that would at least give basic healthcare access to each and every person in the U.S. With some modifications, we can adopt Canadian style healthcare insurance system. Instead of completely replacing multi-payer system, we can offer it alongside single payer insurance plan and such things as health savings account. This means everyone would have access to basic healthcare services but if they need to buy additional benefits, they can purchase additional insurance coverage. This appears to be a feasible plan and it will help provide insurance to million of uninsured Americans. Healthcare in the U.S. is facing serious challenges. The rising costs of insurance, inadequate coverage, expensive drugs are all placing undue burden on citizens, many of whom have no health insurance at all. For this reason, government must consider the recommendations made by various sources and should check the feasibility of a program like single payer system. Concerted effort and sincere action can result in dramatic changes, which can obviously no longer be avoided.
Steven R. Machlin, MS and Kelly Carper, Med. National Health Care Expenses in the U.S. Civilian Non-institutionalized Population, 2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey November 2006
John C. Goodman, Gerald L. Musgrave, Devon M. Herrick, Lives at risk: National Center for Policy Analysis (U.S.) Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.; 1 edition (August 28, 2004)
Alexander S. Preker; John Langenbruner (Editor) Spending Wisely: Buying Health Services for the Poor. "World Bank Publications; 1 edition (June 2005)
Overview of the Uninsured in the United States: An analysis of the 2005 Current Population Survey. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ASPE ISSUE BRIEF September 22, 2005 http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/05/uninsured-cps/index.htm
Holly Dressel Has Canada Got the Cure? Fall 2006. Accessed online December 1, 2009 http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=1503
Anna Bernasek Single-payer insurance could help solve U.S. health care crisis January 2, 2007. http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/01/02/business/health.php
Employer Health Benefits 2007 Annual Survey, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2007-09-11, Accessed online December 1, 2009 http://www.kff.org/insurance/7672/
Employer Health Benefits 2007 Annual Survey, Kaiser Family Foundation