California Pushes Single-Payer Health Care Legislation

A single-payer health care bill may soon become a reality in California now that advocates have presented the idea to a state Senate committee. This is the second time the state has attempted to pass this type of legislation and advocates hope they are successful this time around.

What is Single-Payer Health Care?

Single-payer health care is a structure that requires only one source of payment for all health care. Under this type of system, which is known in some countries as universal health care, all medical needs, whether taken care of at a private doctor’s office, clinic or hospital, are paid for by the government instead of health insurance companies or individuals.

In a single-payer system, while the government takes care of the final bill, health care is not essentially free. A portion of the cost is paid for up front, usually via an increase in taxes.

For some people, higher taxes, along with the need for supplemental insurance policies to cover what the government does not, is a disadvantage of the system. However, others argue that a single-payer heath care system works to minimize the cost of health care on a broad scale while increasing efficiency.

Universal Health Care a Possibility in California

While the United States has steered away from universal health care for some time, the state of California has considered it as its primary health insurance option more than once. Last year, a universal health care bill made its way to the Senate Appropriations Committee, however, the legislation was not passed.

Now, more than 100 advocates are pushing the legislation again, which would require Californians to pay the state, not private health insurance companies, to negotiate their health care. In exchange, more than 7 million Californians who aren’t currently covered would have access to health insurance.

In order for the new health care system to work, the bill would create a new agency responsible for collecting premiums and negotiating care options with medical facilities.

The total cost for the plan is now estimated at $200 billion, which would come out of taxpayers’ money. But supporters say the single-payer health care system would not cost taxpayers more since the money will simply shift from their current health plans to the government. Further, they claim the system would drive down the skyrocketing cost of health insurance in the state.

The Senate committee received the new legislation on Tuesday. However, the bill was quickly moved to the committee’s suspense file and is expected to be reviewed on Thursday.