What is a Single Payer Health Care System?

Single payer health care systems enable universal access with nationalized financing models that ensure universal coverage, meeting the goals set forth in Alma-Ata Declaration by World Health Organization and challenging society to provide it as a human right.

Many individuals currently enjoy access to universal health coverage through Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Affairs; however, this system presents several limitations which need to be addressed.


Single-payer health care systems are healthcare models in which one public entity pays for all medical services provided to citizens, in an attempt to both reduce costs and expand access for all. By streamlining administration and negotiating lower prices with suppliers, this model aims to cut costs while improving access for all. In addition, this model dismantles private insurers while encouraging preventive care practices.

Multiple proposals exist for single-payer systems; some provide universal coverage while others focus on specific aspects such as funding or delivery. It is difficult to pinpoint an exact definition of single-payer healthcare, yet having meaningful discussions about health reform requires such clarity.

Although complex, the United States’ current hybrid health care system contains elements of single-payer. Medicare and Medicaid provide basic coverage while private insurance provides for many. Millions of people still lack any form of health coverage – providing comprehensive insurance could help these people avoid expensive emergency visits in favor of scheduled services such as dialysis treatment sessions; decreasing emergency costs while simultaneously decreasing overall spending on health care spending.


Single payer (SP) systems would lower administrative costs while providing patients with greater choice in choosing doctors based on expertise. They also serve to promote equity and fairness as well as public health by channeling resources towards prevention and treatment measures.

Subsidized plans (SP models) offer patients access to preventative healthcare without paying premiums, thus improving society’s overall health and lowering medical bill bankruptcies. Furthermore, people could learn more about risk factors like high cholesterol earlier, which in turn encourages them to make healthy lifestyle choices and choose preventive care over reactive measures.

Benefits of single-payer healthcare systems depend on how they’re implemented; some countries use hybrid approaches with both government-financed healthcare and private coverage, while others employ fully public health systems. While definitions can differ widely between single-payer systems, most share similar characteristics; including an agency to finance and plan delivery of healthcare services as well as an authority that pays providers directly.


Single payer systems offer one solution to the dramatic rise in healthcare costs: by eliminating profit and waste. They could be funded through taxes, premiums or federal funds and could save money by eliminating private insurance and pharmaceutical company administrative expenses.

Some countries employ complex systems often considered single-payer. Singapore pays healthcare providers directly while England relies on clinical commissioning groups that take national funding and distribute it locally.

Although its effects are hard to precisely forecast, estimates indicate that transitioning to a single-payer system could decrease total healthcare spending overall. This is partly because a single-payer system would require less paperwork and administrative costs as well as negate the need to negotiate with private insurers; plus it may lead to lower deductibles/co-pays which have contributed significantly higher health care expenses in recent years.


Single payer systems allow all Americans access to any doctor, hospital or clinic without worrying about costs. They promote preventative health care by early identification and treatment of health issues before they cause more serious consequences. They also reduce bankruptcies compared with our current health care system where medical bills often have to compete with mortgage or debt payments for payment.

A national single-payer system would necessitate significant reforms. Implementation could occur incrementally, allowing those currently covered by public plans to retain private coverage as well as maintaining employer-based health plans’ roles in providing health insurance. Furthermore, such plans might offer means-tested catastrophic coverage and reduced cost sharing for low-income individuals.

Single payer systems can cut healthcare costs by eliminating fragmentation and streamlining administrative processes, for example streamlined billing can save physicians significant overhead expenses; in addition, this model encourages chronic and preventive care which are less expensive alternatives to emergency treatment.