Here’s what Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has to say about single payer, in an interview published in The Times of India:
Why have you been pitching for a single payer system for health insurance rather than a system where several private companies compete?
The US model of private health insurers has been proven inefficient and expensive. Insurance companies have a very strong incentive to do cream skimming. They make more money figuring out the high cost and low cost people. Rather than provide better healthcare at lower costs, insurance companies innovate at finding better ways of discrimination. They are inefficient because they are trying to figure out how to insure people who don’t need the cover and keep out people who need it. With many companies, they also need to spend on marketing and advertising. The incentives are all wrong and the transaction costs are very high and you have to give them a high profit. In health, social and private incentives are totally disparate. Competition does not work in healthcare especially in the health insurance market. Several countries like the UK, France and Sweden have a single payer system, differing only in the organisation of healthcare delivery. People in these countries have done much better than the US.
I wish more of our political leaders would listen to what experts like Stiglitz have to say. We’d be better off.