In a single-payer system, one entity would act as an administrator or payer. This entity would collect all health care fees and pay out all health costs, and all providers (e.g., hospitals, physicians and other practitioners) would bill one entity for their services. Patients would have a choice over their providers, who would remain as independent as they are today. Thus the single entity would be responsible for paying for health care, but, except in unusual circumstances such as the Veterans Administration hospitals or the Indian Health Service, would not actually deliver that care.
A single-payer system would greatly streamline administration, thereby cutting back on paperwork and allowing more money to go towards actual medical services. In addition, improved databases would allow better monitoring of utilization patterns, allowing the identification of geographical areas in which services are over- or under-utilized. This system has been estimated to reduce administrative services from the current 25-30 percent of the premium dollar under private insurance to approximately 5 percent.
Learn more about Single-Payer
- Why Single-Payer?
- Support for Single-Payer
- Health Care Politics and Terminology
- Health Care Financing
- Comparative Health Systems
- Our History of Single-Payer Activism
- Report: A Road Map to ‘Single Payer’
Public Citizen Health Research Group Director, Sidney Wolfe, M.D., discussing single-payer on Public Television
- Dr. Wolfe and Dr. Himmelstein Discuss Single-Payer with Bill Moyers (links to PBS.org)