Rethinking Healthcare

The best argument against single payer health care

Posting in Government

No more frantic Googling, no more whole days away from work, no more long waits, and no more unnecessary Emergency Room visits, or scary receptionists.

If I had my druthers I would support a single payer health system.

But if I did want to argue against single payer, I would not focus on imagined horror stories from Canada and England, where the majority of people are quite happy with single payer systems.

Instead I would focus on innovators like Jay Parkinson and Hello Health, whom I noted at ZDNet Healthcare in March.

His idea is deceptively simple. Hello Health gives you all the online connection to your doctor you could ever want.

But you pay for that, about $35 per month. And if you actually need to see the doctor, you pay more, $100 for a basic visit, twice that if you need serious time. And no, it's not covered by insurance. It's a version of "concierge medicine," where the doctor is paid to keep you well, not just treat you when you're sick.

As Parkinson told the Boston Globe recently, “No more frantic Googling, no more whole days away from work, no more long waits, and no more unnecessary Emergency Room visits, or scary receptionists.’’

Maybe. Personally I have more faith in Google to make available the health information I need than in the ability of Parkinson or his fellow physicians to aggregate it.

But his concepts are true innovation, not just technologically but in terms of the business model. And they are in line with what reformers call the "medical home" concept, in which technology is used to improve the productivity of both doctors and nurses and patients are in charge of their own care.

Encouraging this innovation is what America is all about, I would argue. Let's see what our entrepreneurs can do with a streamlined payment system before we toss that opportunity away and hand the money to government.

That's what I would say if I were against single payer, anyway. Pity health reform opponents have so little imagination, or faith in entrepreneurship.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure