« $100 Million Taxpayer-Money Bonus For Running Up Price Of Oil | Main | Lobbyist Town Hall Disruptions Begin »

August 2, 2009

The Biggest Reason No Single Payer

-- by Dave Johnson

I think the main reason we don't have significant public pressure for a "single-payer" option in the health care reform process is because supporters of "single-payer" insist on calling it "single-payer."

If they had branded it "Medicare-for-all" it would have been a no-brainer. It might have already passed, avoiding all this fighting and back-and-forth.

OK, listen. People love Medicare. They know what it is. They know it works. That is all you need to know. If you call what you want "Medicare-for-All" you can pass whatever you want to pass and people will support it.

But no one understands what "single-payer" means. Every single time you talk about it you have to start out explaining what you mean. From scratch. and then you have to explain, from scratch, why it is a good thing. From scratch. Every single time.

If you talk to regular people out there, mostly they have no idea what it means. But it sounds sort of scary. I have talked to people who, upon hearing the term, think it means that a single person will have to pay for all their own medical care. That is how far away from winning the argument you being when you use the words "single-payer" to describe what you want.

This is a classic problem, where policy wonks don't understand basic communications. In computers I referred to it as the "designed by Linux engineers syndrome." To this day I still encounter Linux-only fanatics who insist that the command line is so powerful that no one should ever use graphical interfaces...

I have written about this before and I received comments like "well, what we want isn't exactly Medicare. Medicare has its own problems, so..."

Give it a break. Compromise a little. Use language that regular people respond to.

Call it "Medicare For All"!

Posted by Dave Johnson at August 2, 2009 5:36 PM


I mentioned this point of calling single-payer medicare-for-all to a few of my co-workers and they all replied something along the line of "Medicare is going bankrupt. Why would someone want that?"
I also have to mention that the majority of people I discuss single-payer with know what it is. Only a few young people I know were confused as to what it was. I was supportive of single-payer, but I do not think this particular administration can operate it successfully. This admin is a mess, and keep getting messier.

Posted by: MathewS [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 5, 2009 3:08 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

Return to main page