Congressional sponsors of “Medicare for All” single-payer legislation—bills abolishing virtually all existing public and private health insurance—routinely promise that all Americans will get equal access to higher quality care and enjoy superior medical outcomes.
Performance, however, is the acid test of sound policy. While the U.S. “single payer” experience is limited to the Veterans Administration program, recently plagued by headline-grabbing care delays, working models of national health insurance can teach Americans sober lessons in government-controlled health care.
Look at the British crisis. Consider Britain’s National Health Service, established in 1948. In 2017, the British House of Lords issued a stunning report on the state of the NHS. It concluded, “Our NHS, our ‘national religion’, is in crisis and the adult social care system is on the brink of collapse. No one who listened to the evidence presented by a vast array of expert witnesses who appeared before us can be in any doubt about this.”
That evidence has been building for decades, and recent high-profile cases show that the British crisis is chronic. In the October 2019 issue of the Annals of Surgery, one can check out a comparative study of English and American in-hospital mortality between 2006 and 2012. more