A U.S. national health
care system would
nearly half a trillion
dollars every year,
says a leading
The American Spark
Why Lancet Study On National Health Care System Matters
By Cliff Montgomery - Feb. 28th, 2020
A study on the benefits of a U.S. national health care system was released two weeks ago by The Lancet.
It has quickly become a study often mentioned by U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
The Lancet “began as an independent, international weekly general medical journal founded in 1823 by
Thomas Wakley,” declares a self-description of the organization published on its website.
Since that time, “the journal has strived to make science widely available so that medicine can serve, and
transform society, and positively impact the lives of people,” continues the self-description.
It is an important point. Many publications and think tanks have published similar studies; but this is one of the
few entities to enter the U.S. health care debate that is dedicated solely to medical issues. Most of the others
are funded by ideologically-tinged political groups.
The Lancet study, entitled Improving The Prognosis Of Health Care In The USA and headed by Prof. Alison
Galvani (PhD), says that a U.S. national health care system would save Americans nearly half a trillion dollars
“Although health care expenditure per capita is higher in the USA than in any other country,” declares a
Lancet summary of the report, “more than 37 million Americans do not have health insurance, and 41 million
more have inadequate access to care.”
Various efforts to scrap the Affordable Care Act “would exacerbate health-care inequities,” the study
“By contrast, a universal system, such as that proposed in the Medicare for All Act,” declares the report, “has
the potential to transform the availability and efficiency of American health-care services.”
Even after “taking into account both the costs of coverage expansion and the savings that would be achieved
through the Medicare for All Act,” the Lancet report found “that a single-payer, universal health-care system is
likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure,” a cutting of costs “equivalent to more than
US$450 billion annually (based on the value of the US$ in 2017).”
The report stated that “the entire system could be funded with less financial outlay” than the current mixed-
economic system, with its costs “incurred by employers and households paying for health-care premiums
combined with existing government allocations.”
The Lancet study found that “this shift to single-payer health care would provide the greatest relief to lower-
Prof. Galvani and her fellow researchers estimated “that ensuring health-care access for all Americans would
save more than 68,000 lives and 1·73 million life-years every year compared with the status quo.”
On Saturday, the Spark will look at similar studies on the costs and savings of a U.S. national health care
system, and point out why a number of those other reports might not be as trustworthy as the analysis
published by The Lancet.
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