Saturday, February 27, 2010

Universal health care

I've had extensive first-hand experience with the health-care system in this country. It amazes me how we can have the finest health care and medical technology in the world, yet have it so out-of-reach of so many Americans who really need it. It's a tragedy that the cost of it is so unnecessarily high, not only on an absolute basis, but also relative to other modern countries.

I favor universal health-care. However, my reasons for doing so go beyond the moral grounds. I also think that it's the only way to fix our health care system from a political/capitalistic perspective.

It seems to me that there are four main drivers of dysfunction in our health-care system:
  1. third-party payers
  2. health-care fraud
  3. malpractice litigation
  4. pharmaceutical lobby
These factors end up working at odds with each other in the end-to-end provision of health-care. They create protected markets, drive out competition, and push the costs through the roof. They also segregate access to health-care.

In the end, I don't think it's possible to repair our current system. As long as we try to do a fix here and another there, the problems will persist. My opinion is that the only way to create a healthy (pun intended) health-care system is to totally dismantle the current system and completely rebuild it from the ground up under a completely different framework. Probably the only way to end up with a cohesive health-care system that delivers quality care to all Americans rather than only wealthy ones is under -- dare I say it -- a somewhat socialistic model.

I know, now I'm sounding like a bleeding-heart liberal. However, I think the health-care system is a unique beast. It is the only case where I am a proponent of socialism. Otherwise, I'm a big believer in free enterprise. I believe in free trade and limiting regulation on most industries. I also oppose government subsidies of goods. In fact, I believe there are ways that capitalism can be integrated into certain facets of a universal health-care system under a mostly socialistic model.

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