Panel Explores Single-Payer System

Our DCMS Governmental Affairs Committee hosted an exploratory discussion of the issues around a single-payer system on Wednesday January 8, 2020, helping members better understand the potential advantages and shortcomings of the option.

DCMS past president, Lawrence Schouten, MD, opened the dynamic session with a brief history of the major milestones in U.S. healthcare financing over the past century. Then John Perryman, MD, northern Illinois co-president of the Physicians for a National Health Program organization, shared how a publicly financed National Health Program (NHP) could fully cover medical care for all Americans, while lowering costs by eliminating the overhead expenses in the existing profit-driven private insurance system.

Kara Murphy, president of the DuPage Health Coalition, described herself as "agnostic" about a single-payer system, but wholly supportive of an efficient and effective model of care – unlike the current system. She offered valuable perspective on how healthcare financing policy opinions and decisions are based on perceptions and politics, rather than evidence-based analysis.

Paul Erlich, a third year medical student at Midwestern University, noting that most students and physicians see healthcare as a human right, expressed dismay about the disparities in the existing system. He also worried about the high cost of medical education, which drives physicians in training toward more lucrative specialties rather than primary care.

Following spirited discussion, attendees ended the session with a request that the Society continue to host explorations of related issues.