Oncologists foresee 'snowball effect' for single-payer healthcare

The single-payer system has found champions in oncologists, who have a "moral and ethical obligation" to endorse a universal healthcare system financed by a single payer, MedPage Today reported.

Two oncologists made an evidence-based petition for a single-payer system in an article published this month in the Journal of Oncology Practice. Under single-payer healthcare, a public agency would administer a single insurance plan for each region of the United States. This agency--made up of elected or appointed laypersons and medical experts--would establish healthcare policies, manage financing, determine benefits, and negotiate prices for drugs and supplies, as well as for fees with providers and hospitals.

"No longer would private insurance companies be in a position to decide, behind the scenes, what they will or will not cover," authors Ray Drasga and Lawrence Einhorn, both doctors, wrote.

A switch to single-payer healthcare would slash overhead costs and save about $380 billion annually in administrative bloat, they noted. It also would build on the current system in which 60 percent of U.S. healthcare costs are publicly financed.

Dismissing concerns that a single-payer system will increases tax burdens on U.S. households, the authors pointed to the elimination of insurance premiums, copays and out-of-pocket costs. They also maintained that single-payer, universal healthcare is a "fair and sustainable solution" to healthcare problems faced by uninsured and underinsured populations and mounting healthcare costs--not the Affordable Care Act.

"Once one or two states get programs in place and see that they can save millions and millions of dollars, plus insure everybody, I think we could see a snowball effect," Drasga told MedPage Today.

That snowball has been rolling and gaining momentum in Vermont, where Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) said the technical problems with its state-run exchange signal the healthcare industry must move to a single-payer system. In 2017, the state plans to launch the nation's first universal healthcare system publicly financed and managed by the government or a government-sanctioned agency, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

The single-payer system has also received support from Colin Powell, former secretary of state and retired four-star Army general. Last month, Powell called for establishing single-payer healthcare in the United States similar to systems operating in Europe Canada and Korea.

To learn more:
- check out the full article (.pdf)
- here's the MedPage Today article

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