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Single Payer, Universal Coverage, what is the difference?

09-21-2017 by Colleen King

There are a ton of terms being batted about, and sometimes you see people interchanging these two terms especially, and incorrectly. Then you see people talk about how great the Canadian system is, or the British system, or Germany's. They all have their pluses and minuses, as does our own US system.

Universal Coverage and Single Payer are not synonymous. Universal Coverage means that 'everybody' is covered, whether it's though private insurance companies or some sort of public/private option. Germany has 'universal coverage' through a variety of insurance companies. Single Payer means that there is just one 'payer' for services--this could be an insurance company, but it's usually a government entity. This is more in line with what Canada has. England is kind of in between, you have the National Health Service, government based, and then more 'well off' people may buy private insurance. If 'everyone' has one or the other, then you have 'Universal Coverage.'

For a really great comparison, please read the article attached. Written by Michael Lujan, it give a terrific descriptive comparison of how this all currently works between the four countries. Michael is very well known in the agent community, having worked in multiple aspects--as an agent, a rep for private carriers, even helped kick off Covered California, so he knows this business from all sides.

SB 562, the Single Payer bill in California, is back for 'hearings,' so it's definitely not dead. Is it a practical approach, would it work? Depends on who you talk to, so stay tuned.


Category: Health care reform

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