A Doctor on Single-Payer

A DOCTOR ON SINGLE-PAYER….In the Wall Street Journal today, Dr. Benjamin Brewer writes that he’s finally come around to the idea that America would be better off with a single-payer national healthcare system:

Doctors in private practice fear a loss of autonomy with a single-payer system. After being in the private practice of family medicine for 8 1/2 years, I see that autonomy is largely an illusion. Through Medicare and Medicaid, the government is already writing its own rules for 45% of the patients I see.

The rest are privately insured under 301 different insurance products (my staff and I counted). The companies set the fees and the contracts are largely non-negotiable by individual doctors.

….My practice requires two full-time staff members for billing. My two secretaries spend about half their time collecting insurance information. Plus, there’s $9,000 in computer expenses yearly to handle the insurance information and billing follow up. I suspect I could go from four people in the paper chase to one with a single-payer system.

Read the rest. He makes a good case from a ground level that both doctors and patients would be better off if we swept away our current “maze of deductibles, provider networks, out-of-network costs, exclusions, policy riders, ER surcharges, etc.” He’s right.