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December 3, 2003

Proposals for US National Health Insurance

JAMA. 2003;290(21):2797. doi:10.1001/jama.290.21.2797-b

To The Editor: In their proposal for a single-payer health plan, Dr Woolhandler and colleagues1 called for the divestiture of "private, investor-owned" health care companies. In fact, these are not private companies, but are publicly held entities with millions of shareholders (owners) and tens to hundreds of billions of dollars in aggregate market capitalization. The authors suggested that investors could be compensated, but did not detail how such a massive buyback would be financed. It is unlikely that shareholders would accept anything less than fair market value. A majority of Americans, including many physicians (perhaps including the authors), hold shares in such corporations, many through retirement plan mutual funds.