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The concept of “single-payer” is getting a lot of attention lately – what is it?

Strictly-speaking, single-payer describes a system in which a single entity, such as the government, pays for all healthcare costs. Individuals typically pay for healthcare through taxes and the government reimburses the providers of that care.

The recent failure by Congress to pass a replacement or repair of the ACA, and increasing concern about the viability of the ACA’s federal exchanges, is leading some to consider single-payer as a better way to pay for healthcare. Senator Bernie Sanders, who advocated strongly for a single-payer system during his run for the presidency, says he now intends to introduce legislation to establish his version of single-payer, which he calls “Medicare For All.” At the state level, two California State Senators, Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins, introduced legislation to establish a single-payer system in California.

Until our current system is repaired or replaced, it is likely that you’ll be hearing a lot more about single-payer as alternative to our mostly market-based system of healthcare financing.

Resources – Kaiser Health News, in 2016, published this article which provides an excellent and unbiased description of single-payer.