House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) announces that he is pulling the troubled Republican health-care overhaul bill off the House floor at the Capitol on March 24. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Charles Krauthammer’s March 31 op-ed, “The road to single-payer health care,” was largely on point. However, it is important to separate the concepts of “single-payer,” which is a means toward a goal, and “universal coverage,” which should be the primary goal.

Universal coverage can be achieved without having the government cover every citizen. Even if government programs cover most citizens, there will always be multiple payers, including individuals and taxpayers; a universal system also could allow employer plans to operate. 

Ironically, creating a larger government role in sponsoring and subsidizing health insurance could result in a more competitive market for providing services.

Karl Polzer, Falls Church

What conservative would not like a nationwide health insurance program that covered everyone and provided coverage more cheaply, more efficiently and with less government interference than the present system? Apparently Charles Krauthammer — who while rightly scoffing at the Rube Goldberg complexity of the current system, ignored the profoundly conservative aspects of a true single-payer system.

You read that right. Conservatives should embrace the fact that a single-payer system would save hundreds of billions of dollars on administrative and other costs, enough to cover everyone, including the currently uninsured. And that rather than have 51 separate systems, plus Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, health savings accounts, and tax incentives for business — each a separate node where the government (i.e., politicians) can place its fingers on the scales — a single-payer system can be run as a semi-autonomous utility with, by comparison, minimal political interference. And that the mandate they profess to hate was the idea of the conservative Heritage Foundation, with the decidedly conservative premise that if you receive the benefits of health care, you should pay for it.

And single-payer still allows competition among providers. It saves money, involves less government interference and includes personal responsibility — a system even conservatives can love.

Jay Brock, Fredericksburg