Single-payer health care: A system of health care characterized by universal and comprehensive coverage. Single-payer health care is similar to the health services provided by Medicare in the US. The government pays for care that is delivered in the private (mostly not-for-profit) sector. Doctors are in private practice and are paid on a fee-for-service basis from government funds. The government does not own or manage their medical practices or hospitals.
Single-payer health care is distinct and different from socialized medicine in which health care facilities and workers receive payment as government employees.
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Last Editorial Review: 6/9/2016