Less than a year ago, a student at Case Western Reserve University reached out to the Class of 2021 on Facebook to see if any of the incoming students would be interested in bringing a Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP) chapter to NEOMED. It wasn’t long after that when Lydia Du and Trey Moberly, both first-year College of Medicine students, introduced SNaHP to the University.
Are you wondering what SNaHP is? Lydia Du, now NEOMED’s SNaHP chapter co-president, explains.
Tell us about SNaHP.
LD: Students for a National Health Program is the student arm of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). It’s exactly what it sounds like—basically, we support the implementation of a single-payer, nationally funded, privately run health care system in which the government, not private insurers, pays the costs of health care. We’re also associated with Single Payer Action Network (SPAN) Ohio, which is kind of like the Ohio version of PNHP, but for non-medical people.
What is a single-payer health care system?
LD: Basically the way health care is now, it’s like a third-party system. It isn’t the health care professionals, it’s not you as the patient—all of the finances and transactions go through that third party. A single-payer system would mean everyone gets the same type of health care. The best way to explain the concept is by comparing it to Medicare/Medicaid. A single-payer system would be the same—everybody puts the same in and gets the same out, but not everybody uses it because not everybody gets sick at the same time. We’re trying to distance ourselves from the idea of you’re paying for somebody else who is sick. It would just be a big community pot—you pay in, you get out.
Does SNaHP have political ties?
LD: The basic foundation of how the health system operates is what we focus on. We’re trying to stay as apolitical as possible, as it can be a pretty political topic. I think it is a pretty common belief among medical students that health care is a right and everyone should have access to basic health care, so SNaHP has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. It’s a humanitarian issue.
What is on the horizon for SNaHP?
LD: We’re planning a debate this coming fall to introduce the student body to the concept of a single-payer health care system. We will host multi-payer and single-payer experts in a debate to encourage conversation amongst our students. Debates can be risky, especially about this kind of topic, so we’re bringing in the most knowledgeable people in an effort to keep the debate as factual as possible. We want people to be introduced to both sides and have the opportunity to understand the facts of what both systems are like, then we’ll let them come to their own decision. Everybody doesn’t have to agree with us just because we’re a single-payer student organization.
Why do you encourage incoming and current students to join SNaHP?
LD: If you believe that health care is a right and you support patient care beyond the patient-doctor relationship of caring for illness, or if you are someone who is bothered by the fact there are people in this country who can’t afford the health care they need to live, I think SNaHP is a good first place to start. You don’t have to be specifically knowledgeable or passionate about single-payer health care. This is a good place to start for people looking for more information.