Critics of health care reform often suggest that the health care reform overhaul is the first step to a government takeover of health insurance and socialized medicine. Say good-bye to America, these critics say; soon, it will be a socialist country.
To answer his critics, President Obama is fond of pointing out that the government has previously handled a fair amount of health insurance in the form of programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Under the new legislation, the federal government's role is larger than these programs; insurance marketplaces are government-run, as are oversight boards that evaluate the effectiveness of certain treatments. The government also has a role in defining the "essential benefits" that all insurance plans must offer.
There is no Medicare-for-all plan, though -- no single public insurer, which is the best way to understand a single-payer system. The government won't be paying for everyone's health insurance, nor will the government hire our doctors and run our hospitals -- that's socialized medicine, and such is the way things operate in Britain. There is also no public option under the Affordable Care Act; all of the new insurance customers who sign up for plans through the marketplace will be served by private insurance companies.