Many columns and letters to the editor have been written over the last few months with a phrase thrown around without definition. I’d like to provide some clarification.
Socialized medicine is a system in which the government employs doctors and specialists and owns the hospitals. An example of this is Britain’s National Health Service.
There are upsides to this system when it covers everyone, but with a narrow segment of the population there can be problems attaining service. That is what has happened in the case of the VA system.
Single-payer, on the other hand, is a system quite similar to what we have now in the United States: private providers still care for patients, but instead of a mix of private insurers and systems like Medicare/Medicaid purchasing insurance, a single public agency acts as a public insurance company.
Instead of sending a check to Blue Shield or Kaiser every month, some percentage of your taxes goes toward this public insurance company.
Like socialized medicine, everyone is covered, but our medical system of doctors, hospitals and specialists remains in place.