Younger docs warming to 'single payer'

Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Chris Woodward (

doctor with stethoscopeA new survey finds an increasing number of physicians are in favor of single-payer health care. 

Merritt Hawkins surveyed 1,033 physicians and found that 42 percent strongly support a single-payer health care system while 35 percent are strongly opposed.

The results contrast with a national survey of physicians Merritt Hawkins conducted in 2008, which indicated that 58 percent of physicians opposed single payer at that time while 42 percent supported it.

Dr. Jane Orient of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons says it would be interesting to see the age breakdown of the participants.

"I think it's not surprising," she says, "if you have a lot of young physicians who have been through a government education system where they learn virtually nothing of economics or history, where they are really indoctrinated in the view that government is your friend, that government is good, and there all of these predatory private enterprises out there and they have little if any real-world experience trying to run their own enterprise."

Dr. Orient adds that the phrase "single-payer" is a kind of focus group term that people find acceptable.

"If you call it socialized medicine," she says, "they might have some objection to it."

That, according to Dr. Orient, is what single-payer health care really is: government controlled, government-paid for health care.

If you ask Merritt Hawkins, there are four reasons why a growing number of physicians favor single payer, beginning with wanting "clarity and stability" in the complex health care system.

The second reason given by Merritt Harkins is the "generational issue" in which young doctors are more accepting of ObamaCare, seconding Dr. Orient's observation about age groups.

Also cited is a feeling of resignation rather than enthusiasm that single payer is inevitable, and finally a philosophical change among doctors that health insurance should cover as many people as possible.

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