Commentary: Single-payer essential to controlling health-care costs

By:  David Woods

One hears these days mutterings by disaffected Americans that if Donald Trump becomes president, they will pack their bags and leave for Canada. One assumes, of course, that no wall will be built along the border to thwart their exit.

I made the reverse trip. Having emigrated from Britain to Canada, where I became the editor in chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, I opted to come to the United States in 1988 for personal reasons.

But I was also taken with American rugged individualism and a health-care system focused on market forces and competition. I wrote articles for the Economist Intelligence Unit and other periodicals on the wonders of the American system. In print, I debated longtime advocates of single-payer national health insurance, extolling the virtues of the health-care market that others abhorred.

Gradually, though, I too began to have doubts about market-driven health care. Over the 25 years that I've lived on the U.S. side of the border, I've come to the view that the American health-care system - which still leaves 11 percent of the population uninsured, despite the Affordable Care Act - is inferior to the health systems in Canada and the United Kingdom.

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