Health Care Turning Point: Why Single Payer Won't Work

Health Care Turning Point: Why Single Payer Won't Work

by Roger M. Battistella
     
 

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The battle over health care reform has reached a turning point. We can try to fashion new policies based on old ideas—or we can acknowledge today's demographic and economic realities. In Health Care Turning Point, health policy expert Roger Battistella argues that the conventional wisdom that dominates health policy debates is out of date. Battistella

Overview

The battle over health care reform has reached a turning point. We can try to fashion new policies based on old ideas—or we can acknowledge today's demographic and economic realities. In Health Care Turning Point, health policy expert Roger Battistella argues that the conventional wisdom that dominates health policy debates is out of date. Battistella takes on popular misconceptions about the advantages of single-payer plans, the role of the market, and other health policy issues and outlines a pragmatic new approach.

Few would disagree that the current system is broken. Employer-supplied health insurance no longer works; it imposes a heavy burden on American companies when they compete against international firms and creates insecurity and instability for American workers. But, Battistella asserts provocatively, a government takeover of health insurance patterned after Medicare and Medicaid won't work either. With a battered economy and an aging population, the country simply can't afford it. Battistella argues that contrary to popular belief, single-payer coverage will not lower health spending but would encourage overconsumption and drive costs up. The most efficient and affordable way to reform health care, Battistella contends, is for consumers to take ownership of it. If consumers were responsible for buying their own health insurance (as they are for buying their own car and home insurance), he argues, they'd look for value and demand greater price and quality transparency from providers. Health insurance would be more like other forms of insurance and focus on major expenses, with routine care paid for out of pocket.

The economic shibboleth that the principles of market competition don’t apply to health care is nonsense, Battistella says. We won't achieve real health care reform until policy makers adjust to this reality and adopt a more pragmatic view.

HEALTH CARE TURNING POINT'S MYTHS ABOUT HEALTH CARE REFORM

  • Health care is a social good that should be free to all.
  • Single-payer coverage lowers health spending and eliminates social and economic health disparities.
  • Prevention generates big savings.
  • More health spending will stimulate the economy and have a positive effect on health status and longevity.
  • Canada provides a desirable blueprint for U.S. health reform.
  • The principles of market competition aren't applicable to health care.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this concise book Battistella (health policy & management, emeritus, Cornell Univ.) manages to take shots at most arguments made by both the left and the right in the health-care reform debate. He stresses the need for universal coverage but promotes a consumer-driven model, based on the premise that if each of us has to face the real costs of insurance and care, we will make better choices, driving costs down. Part of his ideal redesign would end employer-based coverage, but insurance companies selling to individuals mandated to buy policies would not be permitted to discriminate based on age or health status, and sliding-scale government subsidies would still be needed. Politicians, doctors and hospitals, insurance companies, and consumers all share the blame for where we are, he argues. VERDICT Battistella's book is well sourced, and he does a reasonable job of presenting arguments he disagrees with along with his own views. The controversial ideas are presented in a nonconfrontational way and clearly enough to appeal to readers trying to understand the spectrum of ideas on this topic.—Dick Maxwell, Porter Adventist Hosp. Lib., Denver

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262014076
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
03/31/2010
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Battistella advocates practicality and pragmatism as an alternative to ideological panaceas -- a timely reminder and important reading as the country struggles through its latest attempts at health care reform."--Gail Wilensky,
Project Hope

Meet the Author

Roger M. Battistella is Emeritus Professor of Health Policy and Management in the Sloan Graduate Program in Health Administration at Cornell University.

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