Are we going to single payer anyway?

Are we going to single payer anyway?

Summary: If the VA, the military, Medicare and Medicaid build and re-build their IT infrastructure based on the same open standards, in other words, those become the standards the private insurance market will follow.


This recession may be doing what politicians were unable to do, push the U.S. toward a single payer health system. (Picture from The American Spectator.)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report that, despite the recession, the health care sector will grow in 2009, as the unemployed and uninsured push federal spending higher. Note that the second link is to an October report put out under the Bush Administration.

This came out the same day as a report from the Institute of Medicine saying that some form of insurance is "essential for health and well-being."

Then consider that a major goal of business in the health care debate is to get out of paying for health care as a benefit, pushing those costs to consumers or a government-mandated system.

As the Wall Street Journal writes:

As people are forced out of work and strapped employers trim benefits, the growth of private-sector spending on health care will slow. Meanwhile, with more people qualifying for Medicaid, the public health insurance program for the poor, the growth in public spending will increase. 

While some conservatives continue to call things like comparative effectiveness health fascism, it's market forces that are driving the reform agenda, not political argument.

From an IT perspective this may actually be a benefit. If more people are moving toward plans funded by the federal government, then the government's IT procurement decisions should be definitive in terms of standards and protocols.

If the VA, the military, Medicare and Medicaid build and re-build their IT infrastructure based on the same open standards, in other words, those become the standards the private insurance market will follow.

Assuming, of course, that the U.S. government builds to a single standard. Handing the work out as private contracts to different parties with different technologies could leave us worse-off than we are now.

Topics: Software, CXO, Enterprise Software, Health, IT Employment

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  • Companies are even trying to get on the goverment plans

    I think its inevitable that we end up on a single payer system.

    People say now is not the time, well i say it is, britain did it right after wwii, so there is no reason we cant.

    I think the issue at heart is that everyone is making money off something they should not. yes people should get paid for working in IT, but to get excessively rich off of someone elses health woes, is a bit much.
    • It's an economic choice

      We have chosen, for two generations, to
      subsidize our drug companies and our device
      companies through business models that charge
      piece rate.

      There is a cost to what we are doing. I think
      it's very possible we will lose power in these

      But I also think it's a price we'll pay even
      after we know this fact. And the fact should be
      stated plainly.
  • Hard to say now is not the time

    The cost of medical insurance as a benefit is a
    huge albatross around the neck of corporate
    America. Actually more like a cancer as it
    continues to grow at an alarming rate.

    If one was to focus on improving the competitive
    position of US companies in the international
    market then addressing the cost of medical care
    through universal care is going to be at the top of
    the list.

    Boeing competes with Airbus in the commercial
    plane market. Want to compare the health care
    cost factor in the pricing of the planes both sell?

    GM has admitted that they spend more per car on
    health care than they do on steel.

    Any company that is providing good health care is
    also at a disadvantage in terms of employment
    levels. How many people have been laid off over
    the past year while highly expensive health care
    continues to be provided?
    • That is why it is going to happen

      The most significant event in this debate was when business groups switched sides and started lobbying in favor of government-run and mandated health care.