Single-payer health plan wouldn't cost U.S. more
by Steffie Woolhandler and David U. Himmelstein
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 5, 2016
Posted on: Friday, February 5, 2016 by PNHP, with comments by Don McCanne, MD
In our "read my lips/over my dead body" political culture, the threat of tax increases usually shuts down proposals for single-payer national health insurance. Lately, conservative pundits - and even liberals like Hillary Clinton - have been repeating the mantra that single-payer insurance would break the bank.
Never mind that Canadians, Australians, and Western Europeans spend about half what we do on health care, enjoy universal coverage, and are healthier. Their health-care taxes are higher.
Or are they? According to our study in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health, American taxpayers picked up 65 percent of the total health-care tab last year - a figure that will soon rise to 67 percent.
We paid $2.1 trillion in taxes to fund health care - $6,560 per person. That's more per capita than Canadians or people in any other nation pay. Indeed, our tax-financed health-care bill is higher than total health spending (private as well as public) in any other nation except Switzerland.
Official accounts from agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services peg taxpayers' share of U.S. health spending at about 45 percent, a figure that includes Medicare, Medicaid, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Veterans Affairs. However, this kind of tally omits two important items.