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As a retired USAF officer (30 years active duty) I have had the good fortune, my entire life, never being compelled to deal with private insurance companies....except for auto insurance.  I not only have had the near-experience of single payer in the military, but I have used other countries' single payer system.  I was highly disappointed that President Obama and Harry Reid did not fight harder for the public option...a weak but important first step to single payer.  Personally, my wife and I have nothing to gain from single payer.  We currently have Medicare (the second best health program in the U.S.) and military Tricare, the best.  Like Canada, Medicare allows us to pick our own doctors/hospital, etc.  If I choose to use the military system, I can usually pick my own doctor but it is truly "socialized"....the doctors, nurses, staff, equipment, medicine, etc., are all government owned and operated.  But "single payer" in the military works quite well even though the Tricare program is operated by a single private company....yes, private, but selected and managed by the government...like our supermarkets and exchanges, fitness centers, etc.  The ONE contractor enrolls families, collects modest premiums, and pays claims if you choose a civilian doctor.  It works well and there is absolutely no reason why it, like Medicare, could not be a model for the nation.  Recently, I found in Canada people have good provincial (BC) health care and buy a supplement to cover things the government doesn't, but by and large, they get quite a bit...my friends there tell me they pay LESS in medical tax than most Americans pay to insurance companies.  That is a travesty!  In BC, the province also runs auto liability but that is another story...that doesn't seem to work quite as well as the medical program.  Recently, Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, told me he believes we WILL get to single payer...but not in the current environment.  It is possible Republicans might get interested as businessmen in other countries realize that their businesses are more competitive because they don't have to provide health insurance.  General Motors makes cars cheaper in Canada because of that...maybe that's why so many U.S. bound cars are made there.  I was disappointed that our Democrats killed the public option...but as the Director of the American Students Medical Assn told me (future doctors) they endorse single payer....they know it is the only way...long term.  Vermont is moving forward with a somewhat-single payer program.  We'll see what happens.  Bob F., Lt Col, USAF (Ret)

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