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Why single payer can help address health care's grey areas: Digital health execs

Anjalee Khemlani
Senior Reporter

Medicare for All, or some version of a single payer and guaranteed health care system, is a key issue for Democrats in the 2020 presidential race.

The chatter has been enough to make the health care industry brace for the reality. Some argue a government-run system will stifle innovation and create a slowdown in medical advancements. Proponents insist it will help create better standards of care, and reduce soaring health care costs.

Yet two digital health officials told Yahoo Finance recently that Medicare for All could help address some of the industry’s toughest challenges — namely costs and quality.

Waqaas Al-Siddiq is the CEO of California-based Biotricity (BTCY), which provides remote monitoring for heart patients. He said that in the current ecosystem, there are a lot of uncertainties that Medicare for All can solve.

“Sometimes Medicare is actually providing better care than private insurance, and vice versa,” he told Yahoo Finance’s On The Move.

“As a business, the non-standardization of health care and the non-standardization of care across private and Medicare is a bigger effect to us,” the CEO added.

Biotricity frequently struggles with being paid differently by different payors in different states, Al-Siddiq said. Yet the payor is less important than what is paid for, he added.

“Whether it’s Medicare or its private, the focus really should be around cost reduction and standardization of care,” Al-Siddiq said.

Adam Brickman, senior director of communication and public policy at California-based Omada Health, broadly agreed.

He said the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is responsible for acting as a catalyst—especially the focus on value of care as a factor in reimbursement models.

“What that has then done is, not limited the options, but directed the options for private sector health insurers to compete,” Brickman said.

“Before the ACA I could compete by offering a lower price that didn’t cover certain things. That is no longer an option,” he stated — adding that Medicare for All could change that.

“In an ideal world, if you’re saying private sector is better at innovation, that manifests self because many players are competing for the same business,” Brickman said.

“That pressure would still exist. The problem that no payor, public or private, has yet cracked the code on solving the biggest problems in health care: Chronic disease and the cost to the system over a long period.”

Anjalee Khemlani is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @AnjKhem

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