Letter to the Editor
More on Single Payer
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 9 page 66-66

The debate over health care reform is lively among physicians, if not among policymakers at the national level. That may change as the November election approaches. It is vital that our profession be informed and active in this debate and help our patients understand the issues.

I must disagree with Dr. Monique Masse, who wrote in the March 5 issue that a single-payer system is not realistic. Every other advanced nation has a government-administered health plan. I doubt that her suggestion, medical savings accounts, has ever been applied to an entire society. How could such an untested approach be realistic? Furthermore, I fail to see how it would solve the problem of uninsurance.

Ours is the only advanced nation with million of citizens without coverage, who are at risk of bankruptcy or even death as a consequence of the cost of medical care. According to the Institute of Medicine, "lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States." That is unconscionable.

Medical care does not conform to the free-market economic model for a variety of reasons. Consumers, that is, patients, are not truly free agents, and physicians have a different kind of relationship with patients than car salespersons have with customers.

The managed-care market approach has made no one happy except overpaid insurance executives. It’s time for a single-payer plan, the only real solution to our crisis. To learn more, I encourage readers to visit the Physicians for a National Health Plan Web site at www.pnhp.org.

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