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Argument: Cost savings with universal health care will outweigh program costs

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Supporting quotations

"The Case for Universal Health Care". American Medical Student Association (AMSA). 2005-2006 - "Do the costs of achieving universal health care outweigh the benefits? In 2005, the Emory economist Dr. Kenneth Thorpe published an important report for the National Coalition for Health Care, a strictly non-partisan, broad-based coalition of businesses, providers, unions, and other groups interested in improving the health care system. In this report, Dr. Thorpe calculated the costs to the government of instituting health care for all under four different scenarios:

  • Institute an employer mandate plus individual mandate (requiring employers to provide a certain level of health benefits, and requiring individuals who do not get employer-based insurance to obtain health insurance through some mechanism)
  • Expand public programs such as Medicaid;
  • Create a new program for the uninsured modeled after the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP), the insurance plan for federal employees;
  • Create a universal, public financed plan.

This study did not just focus on expanding access; it also assumed significant systemic changes including administrative simplification, computerized physician order entry, an automated patient safety/error reporting system, reduction in inappropriate clinical practice variation, and controls of provider payments and premiums to reach target goals in expenditure growth. According to Thorpe’s analysis, each of these four options would save money over 10 years. The first two options would save $320.5 billion over 10 years, the third option would save $369.8 billion over 10 years, and the fourth option would save $1.1 trillion over 10 years.16 The important point to take away from Thorpe’s study is that universal health care, coupled with cost controls, can save money while expanding health care access to everyone. If universal health care simply expanded access, the net expenditure would be large. The only way to pay for this expanded access is to institute cost controls such as administrative simplification."

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