April 27, 2017
There are two expandable single-payer healthcare models in place in the United States: Medicare and the Veteran’s Health Administration. Medicare expansion seems to get all the attention, but is it our best option? The VHA has features in place that might make it more desirable as our national healthcare model.
Medicare expansion would still leave the neediest health care patients with large bills to pay. In 2011, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute, the majority of Medicare users spent at least 18 percent of their income on medical expenses, premiums and deductibles.
Many of those bills wound up in collections or written off – effectively charged back to taxpayers. The VHA system’s benefits are based on previous service; VHA medical bills are, in effect, paid in advance. A single-payer plan based on the VHA model would not have to deal with a consumer debt variable; the cost could be calculated up front.
The VHA’s notorious system bugs will have to be worked out, but most of them can be eliminated through proper funding and management. Citizens can earn a lifetime of good quality healthcare through national service, gaining peace of mind – and perhaps a little national pride in the bargain.