Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Universal Health Care

Preview of Coming Attractions in Washington DC.The debate over health care.The President has pointed out (correctly) that the most important step that his administration can take to reign in long term government spending is to control the cost of health care. Far more than Social Security (which may or may not have liquidity problems long term depending on who you ask), Medicare, with health care costs in general, is growing at a pace that is clearly unsustainable.There are two Frontline articles that I recommend to everyone.Sick in America (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundamerica/) examines the weaknesses and inefficiencies in our current system of paying for health care that rely in large part of for profit insurance companies. Sick Around the World (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/)examines how 5 different capitalist countries addressed the issue of universal care. Of note, none of those systems allow for profit health insurance companies in their basic care programs.
Somewhat lost in the debate about how to achieve universal health care is the issue of cost. If we cannot find a way to reign in the growth in health care costs, who pays for health care will really be a moot issue, no one will be able to afford it.To his credit, President Obama has recognized that critical fact and is trying to make it a central part of the move towards universal care.
It is a national embarrassment that the Richest and Most Powerful nation in the world has 50 million people without health insurance (I am currently one of them).
Finding ways to control costs and ensure that everyone has access to the full range of health care (not just the emergency room) is perhaps the most important thing we can do for our future financial success.
Let the debating begin.


Matty said...

Ah yes, nothing fixes non-sustainable government monstrosities better than expanding them.

Uncle Walt said...

I don't know that I mentioned expanding any government monstrosity.
As an aside, Medicare's administrative costs are significantly lower than those of most private insurance companies, profit or non.
Medicare is consuming a growing chunk of the federal budget, not because of its inefficiencies but because of the explosion in health care costs and the demographic shifts that come from the Baby boomers reaching retirement age.
If the private insurance companies were as efficient as Medicare, we as a nation would already be saving Billions of dollars each year.
Finding ways to reign in costs will help us all, no matter who is paying the bills.