George Graham

Time for a Single-Payer System?

The local newspaper delightedly proclaimed this morning that insurance companies are issuing a “wave” of policy cancellations (because of Obamacare, of course!).

That’s the conventional wisdom among “conservatives.” They insist that bad Obama and his bad health care law are playing havoc with America’s wonderful health insurance system, creating a flood of rate hikes and cancellations.

Even CNN icon Wolf Blitzer is joining the chorus of blame.

It’s BS – and I’m sure they know it.

I suspect the private insurers are joining the Republican war against the new health care law, canceling policies and raising rates on purpose.

The insurance companies and Republican state governments are deliberately creating the kind of havoc that might cause the collapse of health care reform. The bad publicity could discourage Americans from signing up, and without widespread participation, the law could fizzle.

As CNN would probably like to know (according to Jon Stewart, anyway), is that a good thing or a bad thing?

In many ways it would be a disaster. The new law is a blessing for millions, regardless of what you might be hearing or reading.

But its collapse could conceivably turn out to be a good thing.

By next November, the sabotage could create such a hopeless health insurance mess that voters would be ready to do something about it. Something like kicking the Republicans out of Congress (and state legislatures).

If I were calling the shots, I would propose the Democrats offer a single-payer system as an alternative.

I am no expert, of course, but I can’t see how hard it would be to open up Medicare – let in anyone who wants in. If necessary, the monthly Medicare premiums could be adjusted to pay for the expansion, possibly on some kind of age-based sliding scale.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the government taking over the health insurance industry. People who want to buy private insurance could still do so. But if they don’t like any of the private insurance companies (or if the insurance companies don’t like them), they could turn to Medicare.

The private insurers would have no cause to complain. Surely, if the government is as inefficient as they say, they could compete successfully against a government-run program?

Of course, it would be better for the American people if the government did take over health care.

I lived in Canada and I have a lot of family members in Ontario, and we think the Canadian system is great.

But that would be “socialism,” I suppose. And too many Americans would oppose having that kind of European-style stuff here.

Click for Jon Stewart’s video

Click for the scary conservative view. 

Click for a different interpretation.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for