The average conservative supports the aspects of a single-payer system... so long as you call it something else

universal healthcare in the usWatching Congress for the past five years has been like that first time you went to your in-law’s family reunion. Between the bickering, arguing, snide remarks, drunken brawls and that cousin that has taken every opportunity to rub the inside of your thigh; you find yourself in one of two positions. Either you’re looking at your spouse and hoping that insanity isn’t hereditary or you come to the terrible realization that you feel right at home.

I live and work in a very red part of Southern California. People may think California is all hippies and rainbows, but if you head East over the mountains you will find yourself among a very rural and conservative population. Every third truck has an anti-liberal bumper sticker and my Obama stickers have earned me lots of one-finger salutes.

However, since I live in such a conservative area I have ample opportunity to speak to every-day Joe Sixpack conservative Americans. I do my best to put up a good fight but when it’s six-on-one there’s only so much I can say and it’s exhausting.

Behold, I bring you good news! Yes, by overwhelming majority the mere mention of the Affordable Care Act causes many of them to shoot beer through their noses. They hate it! They absolutely hate it and everything about it. Well, they hate Obamacare, but they like the part about pre-existing conditions.

Oh how they hate Obamacare, except that part about no longer getting dropped by your insurance company because your care cuts into the company’s profits. Obamacare is going to destroy America; well except for the part about getting a refund from your insurance company because they only spent so much on your actual health care. Those parts are fine. Obamacare is socialism, but they like the idea of a competitive market to get the best price.

I hope you’re catching the trend here. In my conversations with multiple extremely conservative coworkers I have stumbled upon the basic core of why they hate the ACA. It’s not the healthcare reform, or its goals. What they hate is the part where everyone is required to purchase healthcare.

What they hate is the government telling “them” what to do. They completely understand that the only way the ACA will work is if it’s set up for everyone to purchase health insurance. They get that. They don’t like it, but they do understand.

For my conservative colleagues the problem with the ACA is the government forcing them to purchase a good or service. They view Obamacare as a government regulation on the people instead of being a government regulation on the insurance companies. They view the ACA as a gift to the corporations by forcing Americans to buy their product.

Honestly, I can personally and completely understand that point of view and I have to admit their argument is valid regardless of how much it sets my teeth on edge.

So, I prodded deeper with the following question: “What change(s) to Obamacare would you propose which would reduce or eliminate your opposition to Obamacare?”

The answers surprised me. By and large, the one single change to Obamacare that they would fully and wholeheartedly endorse would be this: Eliminate the need to pay an insurance company for healthcare by creating a flat tax on every person and company which the government then used to pay hospitals and doctors for services as well as covering prescriptions for everyone.

universal healthcare in the usRemember, this is coming from devout conservatives. Think about that for a moment. Conservatives are in favor of the regulations on insurance companies as described in the Affordable Care Act, but rather than force the people to purchase insurance from corporations, create a government pool which everyone pays into in order to cover health care costs.

The first time I heard this, it set me back a bit. But I have consistently heard the same thing from numerous Republicans, even those that are convinced that Obama is from Kenya.

Here’s where it gets interesting. When I then ask them “So what you’re saying is that you want a single-payer system?” they respond with a resounding “NO” as if I just asked if I could date their daughter. Then, when I rephrase it: “Well then, how about Medicare for all?” they smile at me as if I’m finally coming around to the right way to think about things and tell me “Yes, of course.”

This fills me with hope. When this whole mess started those on the extreme left desperately wanted the ACA to implement a single-payer system. At the time, I honestly had no idea what that system was. I generally consider myself to be an educated man, but all of the terms thrown around in the public debates made my head swim.

I believe a vast majority of the American population felt the same way. The arguments for and against the system were too “intellectual” and so people decided if they were for or against the Affordable Care Act based on the filters provided by their favorite media channel.

As a result, the same people who are completely against Obamacare are simultaneously for most of the provisions in it, and while they are completely against a “single-payer system” they are completely in favor of “Medicare for all” without realizing that it is the exact same thing.

We’ve seen a lot of this in the news recently. The story that leaps into my mind is the story of the man in Kentucky who hoped that his state’s Kenect was “better than Obamacare.” (it’s the same thing)

The problem folks, is the messaging and information being provided. For every one commercial explaining the honest facts about Obamacare, it seems as if there are ten that are downright inaccurate and misleading.

Add to that the cult-like following of conservative media who’s audience believes that all other media is nothing but liberal lies and you end up with a population that not only doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act, but they don’t understand even the basic terms of the conversation.

With that unbelievably depressing revelation there is still hope for universal healthcare In the US. The undeniable fact is that those conservatives who absolutely believe Obamacare will destroy America are more than likely to support the exact same sort of reforms that liberals do, they just don’t realize it.

If you break it down for them and question them reform by reform, they actually like the majority of the law. The key to its successful acceptance by these conservative people is the efforts of people like you and me to stay calm and engage them in an informed conversation.

Step one is get your facts straight and have references. Know the terms and what they actually mean. Step two is to stay calm and explain in terms your conservative friend can understand. Explain to them what a single-payer system is. If you can do that, you will have planted the seed that will allow further amendments to the Affordable Care Act because at least that one person will understand the terms in the public media.

We must work together because our brothers and sisters want exactly the same thing we want, they just don’t know it. Believe it or not, the Republican opposition to Obamacare is based on the exclusion of the exact same things liberals wanted it to include in the first place.

Frankly speaking, there’s hope in that.

universal healthcare in the us

Originally from the Florida Keys; I’m now a retired Sailor with 20 years of honorable service under my belt. I've seen the world from the decks of aircraft carries and stood on the shores of more than a dozen countries. I have hauled the lines of freedom and weighed the cost of liberty. I am an environmentalist, a life-long student, and an outdoors-man. While I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember for personal pleasure, I became a professional writer in 2008, a few years prior to my retirement from active duty. I like to refer to myself as a POMEL. A Proud, Opinionated, Militant, Educated, Liberal and I can hit an argument with the right facts to win the fight.


  1. Over simplifies some things and presupposes the writer’s experiences with a few in California (even if a conservative area of the state) ring true among conservatives at large. Medicare for everyone is not what I look forward to. Many of the better doctors either don’t accept medicare patients or accept only a limited number b/c medicare pays less. Under a single payer system all the doctors and hospitals would be paid less. Of course this could lead to cutting corners as their time is limited. Also b/c docs and hospitals get paid less they simply may not be able to afford the same level of service. This article simply is not convincing that conservatives want a single payer system, though I have little doubt that Obama would prefer one.

    • Speaking as a man in a single-payer country. The Doctors could be paid less, but not necessarily the hospitals. Any doctor who would rather get paid a little more than save more lives is not a doctor I would want to see. Why would anyone want to see a doctor who values his bank account more than your life?

      • Many doctors run up huge debt getting through med school, internship, residency, and then a fellowship before they actually begin to make any money age 30 or so. Very few with that much education and debt should be asked to work hard and not make enough money to feel like the preparation was worth it. Is it important to a doctor to save lives? Yes, I think so. Does a doctor want to make more money and save lives. Yes, I think even more so. Would the person that wrote the comment refuse to be treated by a doctor that accepted only a limited number of medicare patients even if they believed the doctor was the most competent at treating his/her condition? Personally, I would prefer the best medical care I could get.

        I have traveled to over 50 countries and had a lot of conversations with folks from single payer countries. Many didn’t like the system and many did; though they were not receiving medical care from their home country as they were living abroad and obtaining what little medical care they needed there. The complaints about wait times, being unable to have appropriate (by USA standards) tests and treatment, etc, were more than common among those that did not like a single payer system.

        To begin with, the choice provided (make a little more or save a life) is a false dichotomy. There are other possibilities. Implicit in the comment above is that it is wrong to (and I quote some of my Canadian friends) “make money off another person’s suffering.” Thus they begrudge pharmaceutical companies for making a big profit off some new medications even though the company is not that profitable overall. (If you think they are then buy their stock.) They feel the same towards doctors, hospitals and other health care providers and health insurance companies. I wonder if they feel the same way about a hotel, restaurant etc.located near a hospital that caters to outpatients or the families of long term in patients. The economy is now so global that it could prove difficult to find a business that isn’t connected to health care in some distant way. However, my main point here is that presenting what happens in health care as making a profit off another person’s suffering is just plain shallow. Anyone that wants to can contribute their own money to help fix what they think is wrong before attempting to make the public pay for it and salve their conscience.

        I wonder if the commenter above values the lives of impoverished children around the world more than his bank account. If so, he could give all his money and save a whole lot of poor children’s lives. Mother Teresa did something like that just to provide dying people with a clean place to die. Perhaps all doctors should do the same.

        • Doctors should provide a clean place to die?

          Not that it’s any of your business but I give to Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders regularly. You know how I can afford that? by not having to pay for my own healthcare.
          What does charity have to do with healthcare anyway? You must be pretty well off to think that way.

          I don’t know what you’ve heard, but doctors make a pretty damn good living up here. If they were really that greedy and want to make more, they are free to leave and some of them do. Good riddance. Making more money doesn’t make you a better doctor. Are you trying to tell me American doctors are better because they get paid more?

          The pharmaceutical companies are first and foremost there to provide a service and research, not make a profit which keeps costs low.

          I’m not sure why you brought up restaurants and hotels, hospitals are not resorts. Out-patients go home and if need be are cared for there.

          The wait times here are fairly normal and most tests and treatments are readily available. You can’t lump every single-payer system together. they are all funded and managed differently.

          • If you don’t pay for your own health care through taxes then someone else is paying for it instead of you. Very little is actually “free” in this world. Here in the USA some doctors do very well financially once they get their practice established and have lots of patients. A doctor doing a fellowship here in the USA may not make $50K per year and the average family practice doctor makes (average) $175K which is up from previous years. An orthopedic surgeon averages about $330K once established in a practice. That is not all that high compared to other professions (damn lawyers) in the USA. Perhaps that is higher than some other countries. There are certainly many doctors here that immigrated from other countries in the not too distant past. Nowadays there is talk of doctor shortages in the USA so time will tell what the situation will become.

            Mother Teresa was in Calcutta, India, not the USA. She went out onto the streets and found people near death. She took them in and with the help of her aides, bathed them and put them in a clean bed or cot and they died there. The medical system in India did NOT provide a clean place for poor people to die.

            Someone once said that “If you like you health insurance you can keep it. Period!” I believe that same person made a similar statement about your doctor. And also promised that a middle class family would save an average of $2500. per year on health insurance costs.. So I suggest to you that if you are happy with what you’ve got then keep it. I wish you well and hope you enjoy having your own blog. The end for me.

          • Copied from above: “The pharmaceutical companies are first and foremost there to provide a service and research, not make a profit which keeps costs low.
            I’m not sure why you brought up restaurants and hotels, hospitals are not resorts. Out-patients go home and if need be are cared for there.”

            Pharmaceutical companies are owned by their shareholders. They exist to make a profit. Their owners (shareholders) would not allow it any other way and sell their stock when/if profits drop or cease to exist. Just the same as any other corporation.

            Out patients go home when they live near the hospital, When it is a long drive home and they have to be at the hospital for another treatment the next day they frequently stay in a hotel very near the hospital – as do their spouse/family.

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