Monday’s Supreme Court ruling allowing some private, for-profit companies an exemption for required health care benefits comes as no surprise. For years, employers have increasingly chafed under the growing cost and complexity of providing health insurance to workers. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) built on the existing system of employer-sponsored health care by requiring most employers to provide health care coverage. Ever since, the public has been inundated with media reports (both real and exaggerated) of employers seeking to opt out. We should let them—all of them—and make it easy for businesses to do so by expanding to everyone the cost-effective Medicare program, thus achieving a single-payer system of health care in the United States.
“In a single-payer system, an individual’s own religious beliefs—not those of employers—would influence health care decisions,” says John Lozier, National HCH Council Executive Director. “This Supreme Court ruling only adds further complications to a system that is already complex and uneven.” Indeed, the U.S. has the most expensive and inefficient health care system in the developed world. Just weeks ago, The Commonwealth Fund found the U.S. ranked last among eleven of our international colleagues on measures of access, equity, quality, efficiency, and overall health. Each of these other systems depends upon a single-payer financing model that is cheaper, yields better outcomes, and includes everyone. By contrast, even after the ACA is completely implemented, the Congressional Budget Office anticipates that 30 million people will remain uninsured, and the U.S. health care system will still cost billions more than needed.
“Hopefully the Hobby Lobby ruling will prompt more people to seriously consider a single-payer system as the best, most cost-effective means of providing accountable, consistent care for all people in our country,” says National HCH Council Board President, Nicholas Apostoleris, Ph.D. It’s time for us to adopt a system based on health outcomes and efficiency rather than employment status and corporate profit. The welcome surprise will come when the Chambers of Commerce and other businesses demand to be freed from the expensive and administratively burdensome yoke of our current model and join us in a call for a single-payer system.