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Health Insurance Glossary

Definitions for common health insurance terms

single-payer system

DEFINITION: Single-payer system is a health care system in which one entity – a single payer – collects all health care fees and pays for all health care costs. Proponents of a single-payer system argue that because there are fewer entities involved in the health care system, the system can avoid an enormous amount of administrative waste. Instead, all health care providers in a single-payer system would bill one entity for their services. Within a single-payer system, all citizens would receive high-quality, comprehensive medical care PLUS the freedom to choose providers. Paperwork would be dramatically reduced with the elimination of bills, co-pays and deductibles. A single-payer system – like the system in Canada – is NOT socialized medicine. Read more about the difference between a single-payer system and socialized medicine.