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Monday, January 13, 2014

Single Payer is Good for Business

The Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") attempts to provide universal health insurance through the private insurance industry, subsidizing premiums where necessary to cover as many people as possible with "affordable" private insurance. A much better plan called "single payer" wasn't even discussed when the health care debate began in 2009, the President himself declaring that single payer was "off the table".

Single payer simply means that the Federal government provides basic health insurance to all citizens. Another term for single payer is "medicare for all", easily enacted into law by changing the age of eligibility from 65 years of age to zero. Payroll taxes are completely unnecessary to fund it, just as health insurance premiums themselves would be unnecessary for most citizens under a single payer system.

The direct benefit of single payer is obvious, but the advantages to the private economy aren't as well understood. The fact is that single payer is good for business, good for everybody, and it's an easy solution to settle this health care issue once and for all.

Consider the advantages that a single payer system offers to the private, small- business environment:

First of all, health insurance would cease to be a factor in hiring and staffing decisions. You won't have to worry about what an employee's future health problems might cost the company, or what additional health insurance overhead might do to your labor costs when hiring new employees. They're already covered.

Second, other heavy insurance costs could be reduced or even eliminated. This includes the large portion of automotive insurance, general liability insurance in case somebody sues you for slipping on the sidewalk, workman's compensation insurance, and even product liability insurance, all of which would be greatly diminished or rendered unnecessary.

In effect, we can remove the burden of health care from business and workers alike under a single payer plan. America would go about its business without the fear of medical costs impacting their future. If you get hurt or contract an illness, you go to a doctor and you're covered. It's that simple.

And don't let people tell you that this is "socialized medicine". It's not. This plan relies completely on the private sector to provide medical services. Private insurance companies would remain to provide other types of insurance as well as vanity or supplemental health insurance to those who can afford it.

It's time to bring the single payer argument back into public debate. The idea has broad support from medical professionals, small businesses and the American public. Single payer is good for business and good for America. Let's get it done.


  1. This is a rework of an article I wrote last year before finding MMT. I've discarded the payroll tax as part of the plan, since that's a separate argument all by itself and, in my opinion, quite unnecessary.

  2. Very well said, I hope the conversation turns in this direction.

  3. As a single payer health insurance plan run by the government, would this not qualify then as a government monopoly? Since we know that private business monopolies are bad because they remove choice and competition for the consumer, why then would a government monopoly be a good thing for the consumer?

    Sorry but this pie in the sky idea has been around for along time, and leads to the same thing, poor quality and poor choices, which is really bad for coverage of life and death situations.

    1. Technically yes, but only in form. It does not function in the same capacity or have the same consequences as a private monopoly. Private monopolies are considered harmful not only because of a lack of choice, but because it allows the monopoly holder to artificially raise prices and significantly increase their profit margins at the expense of the public health. It is made even worse by the fact that you HAVE to purchase from that monopoly due to the fact that the product in question is necessary for life. However, as a public service, the profit motive is eliminated entirely, negating the worst elements of a for-profit healthcare industry while keeping costs artificially lower for the consumer through subsidization. As a basic human need, universal access eliminates the problems that currently plague a private system. Furthermore, as opposed to how a private monopoly will crush opposition in a chosen industry, nothing prevents private insurers from continuing business within the environment of a single payer system as they provide specialized services and products for clients who seek them (in much the same function that private schools play in the public education system).

      Also, the idea that this is a "pie in the sky idea" is erroneous. The rest of developed world employs some form of a Universal healthcare system and they seem to be working just fine.

    2. Sovereignty itself is a monopoly on force. In this case, the government isn't being asked to actually run the health care industry, that remains private-sector delivery. This is a financing issue, an issue of citizen benefits that are completely justified by our nature as a free, sovereign democracy.

      It's important to understand that payroll taxes are not necessary for these benefits to be extended, along with pensions (SSA) and anything else we might want, like free education. As sovereign issuer of the USD, these payments can come straight from the US Treasury. Medicare payments could/ should be increased significantly, and the payroll tax suspended.

      Providing a bonus account to every citizen is an idea by Warren Mosler designed to incentivize market claims against the system. The account would cover any deductibles until it ran out, at which point you'd be 100% covered. Any balance in the account would be issued as a bonus for the year, and a new balance restored for the next year. Simple and effective.