Do You Support Single-Payer Health Insurance?

September 12, 2018

When the American Medical Association (AMA) met in Chicago, Illinois, this past June, its medical student caucus seized an opportunity to push the organization to support the idea of single-payer health insurance. Although the AMA has thwarted such proposals since the1930s and has long been considered one of the policy's most powerful opponents, this time the notion got a full hearing.  

Some proponents say single-payer would reduce healthcare costs by cutting down on administrative fees and eliminating commercial insurers' drive for profits. Many of those who oppose it say that single-payer would have free rein to lower physician reimbursement and payments. It would also build up its own inevitable bureaucratic inefficiencies.

In addition, if insurance companies were put out of business, at least 800,000 people in the private-sector insurance industry would suddenly be out of a job.

The AMA meeting debate was heated. But by the meeting's end, the AMA's older members had agreed to at least study the possibility of changing its stance. This speaks to a possible cultural shift in the medical profession, one with big political implications.

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