The topic of single-payer healthcare is enjoying a moment in the limelight in the US. A significant chunk of the population supports such a system, and more than a few presidential candidates have stated they do as well. As sweeping economic policies go, this one seems to be easier to analyze than many, given that there are a number of countries using such (or very similar) systems, including other Western democracies.
My main questions are as follows:
Does the theory and evidence indicate that single-payer improves the financial well-being of patients, and if so, how are those improvements distributed (how do the benefits differ at different income levels, e.g.)?
How does it affect the medical industry generally? Is there merit to the claims opponents of single-payer often make that it reduces innovation and technological advancement within the sector? How does it affect employment and wages of medical staff?
Beyond the obvious (higher taxes), what are the implications of such a massive government spending program?
I have no particular background in economics, but I imagine that this question will generate very different answers from different economic schools. I'd appreciate several perspectives, if possible!