Even though public debate over American health care policy has been trapped in legal limbo, research into the nuts and bolts of fixing American health care has never gone away—and, in fact, has evolved in strange new directions. In at least one case, a major health care provider has concluded that a single payer system was viable at the state level.
In late March, a study by the Lewin Group, a research subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare, the country’s biggest health insurance provider, found that a broad single-payer plan would save the state of Minnesota $189.5 billion from 2014 to 2023, and lower annual health care costs for families by over $1,300. But it would also cost the state’s insurance industry more than 42,000 jobs, as health care moved from a paid service to a public benefit.
UnitedHealthcare is based in Minnesota. A liberal Minneapolis think tank, Growth and Justice, commissioned the study. It supposes a publically funded and administered program, with far greater public involvement than the federal Obamacare plan approved today by the Supreme Court. The researchers claimed the modeled program would “cover a broad range of health services for all Minnesota residents, including those now covered by federal and state programs and undocumented immigrants.” It would eliminate insurance premiums for employers and workers. The investigation—of a system that could have been rendered all but illegal had today's ruling gone against the Obamacare plan—imagined a system funded from “current funding for government health programs” and several tax increases: alcohol, cigarettes, a bump in a state payroll tax, or an increase in Minnesota’s income tax.
The study is here. The possible future it describes is controversial. As of today, though, it also appears to be legal. Let the shouting resume.