Andrea Lomax asks California OneCare:

Who will be on the program and how much will it cost? Is this a secret that only a few people know? Please let us know so that we can make up our own minds?

Ms. Lomax:

Thank you for these good questions. The answers are certainly not secrets. Let me try to answer them fully.

First, single payer, California OneCare is for everyone. That is, every resident of California will be covered for all medical conditions. In addition to doctors and hospital coverage, it includes prescriptions, dental care, mental health care, therapists, diagnostics, lab work, acupuncture, chiropractic, home health care, rehabilitation, and much more. (Please see SB 810 overview here, for the complete list of coverage.) What’s more, each of us will be able to choose any doctor, hospital, clinic, or laboratory we wish.

While it seems like this much coverage would cost more than we are paying now for private health insurance, the opposite is true. The reason is that California OneCare would eliminate private health insurance altogether. That would eliminate more than 25% of the overhead costs of health insurance. Right now, 31 cents of every dollar you pay for private insurance goes to administrative costs (mountains of paperwork, much of it to deny claims), marketing costs, profit-taking, and extravagant salaries for executives. Under a single payer plan, these costs would be less than 5%. The overhead costs of Medicare, for example (a single payer plan) are less than 2%.

As a result, under California OneCare you would pay less than you are paying now and you would get more coverage. What’s more, under single payer there would be no deductibles or co-pays or exclusions for preexisting conditions. Everyone would be covered all the time for everything.

As far as the actual dollar costs are concerned, that figure must be determined from a study of the complex economics of the health care system at the present time. Suffice to say, there have been more than 20 studies over the past 18 years in various states in the U.S., and every single one of them found that a single payer plan would not only provide comprehensive coverage for everyone, but it would also cost less than any other option. We also have examples in many developed nations that have adopted single payer plans, such as Australia, Taiwan, Canada, and everyone is covered at half the cost per capita, compared to what we pay here in the U.S.

We are planning another study right now that will give us the exact dollar amounts for California OneCare in today’s dollars. The results will not be available for several months, but you can be assured that California OneCare will provide full care, for all, for less.

Don Schroeder, Co-Chair
California OneCare Campaign