What is single-payer health care?

In a single-payer health system, there are no competing health insurance companies

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The coronavirus pandemic has pushed support for Medicare-for-all to the highest level in months as the outbreak triggers unprecedented health and economic crises.

The universal health care bill championed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a two-time Democratic presidential candidate, would essentially establish a single-payer health program in the U.S.

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In a single-payer health system, there are no competing health insurance companies. Instead, there's a single public or quasi-public agency that provides residents with health care coverage. Under the one health insurance plan, residents would have access to all necessary services, including doctors, hospitals, long-term care, prescription drugs, dentists and vision care.

Individuals may still choose where they receive care -- similar to Medicare in the U.S.

Proponents of a single-pay system argue that it would address several problems in the U.S., one of the most expensive health care systems in the developed world, like extending coverage to all Americans.

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The system may also incentivize the government to put more health-care spending toward public health measures, such as implementing childhood obesity prevention programs in schools.

Critics of the system, however, argue that it creates lengthy wait times and can be restrictive of certain services, such as cosmetic procedures or elective surgeries.

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