View all Events

Comparing Public and Private Health Insurance: Would a Single-Payer System Save Enough to Cover the Uninsured?

Wednesday October 2007


Benjamin Zycher Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

Discussant: June O'Neill, Wollman Distinguished Professor of Economics and Finance, Baruch College, Director, Congressional Budget Office (1995-1999)
Moderator: Howard Husock, Vice President of Programs, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

In the current campaign season, presidential candidates are vying to offer the most sensible strategy for extending insurance to those who lack it and for controlling the costs of insurance and care. Among the attractions of a government-provided health-care system has been the possibility that it might broaden coverage, while simultaneously reducing costs. As columnist and economist Paul Krugman has written: “Eliminating the excess administrative costs of private health insurers . . . would by itself more or less pay the cost of covering all the uninsured” (New York Times, 02-16-07).

In a new report released by the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Medical Progress, senior fellow Benjamin Zycher examines this proposition. Zycher compares the costs of administering Medicare with the administrative costs of a private system. He then analyzes whether the savings that would result from a switch to single-payer health insurance would, in fact, be sufficient to cover the costs of a government-administered universal health-care system.