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Health Care Turning Point: Why Single Payer Won't Work


  • Battistella, Roger M.


In the battle over health care reform we can try to fashion new policies based on old ideas--or we can acknowledge today’s demographic and economic realities. In Health Care Turning Point, health policy expert Roger Battistella argues that the conventional wisdom that dominates health policy debates is out of date. Battistella takes on popular misconceptions about the advantages of single-payer plans, the role of the market, and other health policy issues and outlines a pragmatic new approach. Few would disagree that the current system is broken. But, Battistella asserts provocatively, a government takeover of health insurance patterned after Medicare and Medicaid won’t work either. Battistella argues that contrary to popular belief, single-payer coverage will not lower health spending but would encourage overconsumption and drive costs up. If consumers were responsible for buying their own health insurance (as they are for buying their own car and home insurance), he argues, they’d look for value and demand greater price and quality transparency from providers. The economic shibboleth that the principles of market competition don’t apply to health care is nonsense, Battistella says. We won’t achieve real health care reform until policy makers adjust to this reality and adopt a more pragmatic view.

Suggested Citation

  • Battistella, Roger M., 2012. "Health Care Turning Point: Why Single Payer Won't Work," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262517256, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262517256

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2004. "The revived Bretton Woods system," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(4), pages 307-313.
    2. Eichengreen, Barry, 2004. "Chinese Currency Controversies," CEPR Discussion Papers 4375, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter M. Garber, 2005. "An essay on the revived Bretton Woods system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
    4. Allan H. Meltzer, 1991. "U.S. policy in the Bretton Woods era," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 54-83.
    5. Peter M. Garber, 1993. "The Collapse of the Bretton Woods Fixed Exchange Rate System," NBER Chapters,in: A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform, pages 461-494 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 1998. "Implications of the Great Depression for the Development of the International Monetary System," NBER Chapters,in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 403-454 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 1993. "A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bord93-1, January.
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    More about this item


    public policy; health care; markets; insurance;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance


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