In The Atlantic, Sean McElwee asks, “Can Vermont’s Single-Payer System Fix What Ails American Healthcare?” I certainly hope so, because we haven’t been doing too well.

A 2012 Institute of Medicine report finds that the U.S. healthcare system wastes $750 billion each year. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found, “Among 34 OECD countries between 1990 and 2010, the U.S. rank for the age-standardized death rate changed from 18th to 27th, for the age-standardized YLL [Years of Potential Life Lost] rate from 23rd to 28th, for the age-standardized years lived with disability rate from 5th to 6th, for life expectancy at birth from 20th to 27th, and for healthy life expectancy from 14th to 26th.” OECD countries pay half of what the U.S. does, in per capita terms, for better outcomes and universal coverage.

The implementation of ObamaCare should help by making health care more affordable and accessible, and by encouraging people to get more preventative care. But we’re still going to be paying much more than other comparable nations and getting subpar results.

The wait is frustrating, but I am hoping that Vermont will succeed and shine like a beacon showing the rest of the country the way forward.

It used to be that Americans didn’t settle for being second-best. We certainly didn’t settle for being 27th out of the 34.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at