Opinion | Hamilton: What does ‘single payer’ mean?

Bill Hamilton | Central View
Bill Hamilton
Courtesy Photo

Almost all of the presidential hopefuls who are left-of-center say they are for a Single Payer health-care system. So far, no presidential candidate at the political center or right-of-center is for Single Payer health care.

Unmasked the term Single Payer means: Socialized Medicine — a system whereby the U.S. Government would be the sole provider of health care for the United States.

Has the U.S. ever tried Socialized Medicine before? Yes, the Veterans Health Administration (VA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS). Space does not permit a recounting of all the problems with VA health-care services as reported by America’s war veterans.

According to the IHS, Native Americans experience a lower life expectancy and higher disease rates than our general population. “Diseases of the heart, malignant neoplasm, unintentional injuries, and diabetes are leading causes of American Indian and Alaska Native deaths (2009-2011). American Indians and Alaska Natives born today have a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than the U.S. all-races population. American Indians and Alaska Natives continue to die at higher rates than other Americans in many categories, including chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, diabetes mellitus, unintentional injuries, assault/homicide, intentional self-harm/suicide, and chronic lower respiratory disease. Is Socialized Medicine adequate for our Native Americans? You decide.

Recent studies of physician compensation show that health professionals under Single Payer systems earn 44-percent less than health professionals in the USA. Will our brightest students opt for medical school? Or, will they choose higher-paying professions? You decide.

Under Single Payer systems, such as those in effect in Canada and the UK, patient wait times to see primary-care physicians are considerably longer than in the USA. Wait times for tests such as MRI or CAT scans are longer yet. So long, that patients who could have been saved by timely diagnosis and treatment have died while awaiting needed tests or procedures. Too often the same story with the VA.

Rationing of health care is a hallmark of Single Payer systems. That is the result of fewer doctors attending more patients, the lower availability of testing devices, lower pay for health professionals, and lower reimbursements for services rendered.

Seniors suffer most under Single Payer systems because the systems are designed to spend more money on patients with longer to live than on seniors whose life expectancy is less. To borrow from the 1972 film “The Godfather,” when an older loved one is told he or she is no longer eligible for a possibly life-saving diagnostic test or operation, remember: “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”

To be diagnosed or treated right away, the wealthy in Canada and the UK often come to the USA and pay cash. Canadian tags abound in Detroit and Buffalo hospital parking lots.

Check the Internet for Medical Tourism Adverts. Wherever Single Payer is in effect, Medical Tourism is a booming industry. For those of more modest means, Thailand is a frequent Medical Tourism destination.

Stripped of its innocent-sounding name, Single Payer is Socialized Medicine which, if adopted, would put America’s health care on a par with the UK and Canada or even below. We report. You decide.

Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. Dr. Hamilton is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: the Sage of Sheepdog Hill, Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017). “Central View,” can also be seen at:

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