Medical insurance in the United States is a huge problem. Many Americans go without it and especially after COVID-19, have our health system issues become more glaring in the healthcare aspect. Currently, the healthcare finance structure is made of an impressively complicated network of multiple payers, involving both private and government health insurance options. Despite spending so much on healthcare, the United States has the lowest life expectancy compared to countries of its status. For California especially, one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19 and whose vaccination turnout is faltering, the need for a comprehensive healthcare insurance system is necessary. On Feb 20th, Assemblymember Ash Kalra of San Jose proposed a single payer medical system bill (CalCare) in California. Kalra’s website says that this would, “guarantee comprehensive, high-quality health care to all Californians as a human right.” The CalCare program would establish something similar to Medicare.
In a single payer system, a single public agency, ideally our government, would take the place of our currently bloated healthcare system. Everyone would have insurance under one plan and still have access to necessary services such as doctors, dentists, and vision. A common misconception of single payer is that it removes choice, however, Americans will still have the opportunity to choose where they receive care. The most obvious benefit of single payer is that everyone is covered - regardless of age, income, or employment. Because the United States falls behind on health outcomes, it is partially due to the fact that people without insurance wait longer to seek medical care; thus, preventative care is non-existent and pre-existing conditions become harder to treat. Moreover, medical debt is the number one reason for personal bankruptcy in the United States. Polling shows that most Californians support single payer healthcare under the right circumstances. However, in order to ensure the success of CalCare, we need to not let this become another SB 562 situation. Ultimately, the research shows that single payer would do a lot to help Californians and Americans in all, as it would foster better health and better financial wellness in people.
Here, Assemblyman Kalra blasts critics of single payer. Given the already high costs of healthcare in the U.S., adoption of single payer would be more cost effective. Twitter: @Ash_Kalra
University of California, Riverside