Guest MINDSETTER™ Gubernatorial Candidate Dr. Muñoz: Single-Out
Thursday, February 01, 2018
A Single-Payer health system is a health system primarily driven, funded, and regulated by government. The Single-Payer model is similar to the Medicare model, whereby, the government provides financial support for healthcare services and goods, and establishes a fee structure around the reimbursement of those services and goods.
I have studied the various manifestations of Single-Payer health systems in countries such as, Israel, France, Germany, and Japan. I can dive deep into the nuances of each of these Single-Payer systems, but instead, I will focus on two reasons why Rhode Island should not transition to a Single-Payer health system.
The Cost Burden
The State of Vermont recently experimented with a single-payer system. In the end, Vermont went so far as to increase employer payroll tax to 10.6% and employee payroll tax to 3.6% and yet, the system was still unsustainable.
Recent opposition to Single-Payer legislation in Rhode Island has been fueled by cost concerns. It has been estimated that transitioning to such a system would cost Rhode Island approximately $5B annually, which Rhode Island taxpayers would likely have to pay for. How was the estimate derived? On average, annual health expenditures for each Rhode Islander approximates $5k. Therefore, if you are covering all Rhode Islanders, then you have acquired a greater than $5B bill. However, healthcare systems are far too complex to formulate cost estimates based on multiples of health expenditures and population size.
Healthcare systems embody multiple insurers, providers, technicians, facilities, technology infrastructure, and a network of business executives at the intersection of each decision. The “Single-Payer” legislation that has been proposed for Rhode Island aims to address that complexity by placing all financial and purchasing power into the hands of a few state government officials.
Developing a financial software system that integrates with multiple layers of healthcare (i.e., providers, patients, vendors) would be expensive, and with an administration that lacks health information technology and healthcare coordination expertise, it would undoubtedly predispose Rhode Island families to extraordinary risks. As an example, let’s remember the failed design and deployment of the Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP), which harmed many Rhode Island families.
The Evolving State of Health
A well-known single-payer model is the Israeli healthcare system. Israel’s healthcare system is managed by ministries (i.e., finance and health), which embody a group of experts representing the fields of economics, finance, technology and healthcare. The Israeli single-payer system provides several public insurance options and yet, Israel has sustained free market principles by allowing over sixty private supplemental health insurers to co-exist in that environment, and to compete for business, and to provide patients with more options. Nevertheless, the unexpected rise in chronic diseases has presented new financial challenges to that system.
We have long been challenged with a high prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. We have been subject to hyper-inflated drug prices. We have been victims to a health insurance industry with few options and ever-increasing health costs.
We are not the last in line for a Single-Payer system, but rather, we have evolved beyond a Single-Payer system.
The Road Ahead
There are those who believe that the right to health resides in the “opportunity” to live a healthy life. An “opportunity” defined by the availability of healthy nutrition, quality education, stable personal finances, clean environments and living conditions, and safe neighborhoods. It is through the edification of communities and improvements in the aforementioned societal realms that we can positively influence health choices and outcomes. The road towards a healthier Rhode Island requires a more comprehensive approach to health education and care coordination, a nurturing environment for our healthcare workers to grow and thrive, and a stronger voice with which the people, and the health providers who serve them, can challenge the institutions that contribute to rising health costs.
Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017
Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?
Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...
Definitely be voting: 78%
Probably be voting: 13%
What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
Jobs and economy: 21%
State budget: 9%
Corruption/Public integrity: .8%
Don’t know: .9%
Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?
Net: Approve: 28%
Definitely approve: 15%
Probably approve: 14%
Net: Reject: 67%
Probably reject: 19%
Definitely reject: 48%
Don't know: 4%
The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).
$50,000 or less: 27%
More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%
More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%
More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%
$150,000 or more: 13%
Don't know/refused: 17%
What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?
Black or African American: 6%
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