A single-payer health care system provides complete and comprehensive coverage to anyone who pays taxes.  The term “single” refers not to the individual, but to a single public body (group of people) who are paying into a single fund—not unlike how Medicare works in the US.  In a single-payer system, the government handles the fund to pay for care that is delivered within the private sector.

One medical student, dissatisfied with the prospect of working in the current system, created an animated explanation of the single-payer system that likens it to prom ( http://www.grahamazon.com/sp/).  In this example, a portion of  our taxes are set aside (like paying for a prom ticket), and the government uses the money to pay our health care bills (like the prom committee distributes the ticket money between caterers, a DJ, and decorations).

Having one committee handle the funds allows everyone to get more bang for their buck, and the metaphor becomes even more apt when you use it to address misinformed complaints about choice and freedom.  The prom committee can’t tell you who to take to the prom, or what to wear, or how long you’ll stay… but it also can’t turn you away.  Likewise, in a single-payer system, the government could not tell you which doctor or hospital to visit… but it would also not be able to deny you care for any of the current reasons that people are faced with.

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