Healthcare

HEALTHCARE….I should have linked to this yesterday, but I didn’t, so I’ll do it now: here is Max Sawicky’s take on the various healthcare plans touted by the Democratic presidential field.

I don’t really have any comments of my own except to highlight this paragraph:

Our health care system gets worse every year in terms of cost, rights, and coverage, but it’s akin to the frog in a pot of water over a stove burner. The extent of change in a given interval of time is not perceptible. Eventually costs will get ridiculous and radical change will be impossible to escape.

The healthcare debate, as with everything else these days, is usually argued in polarized ideological terms ? Baby killers! Socialized medicine! ? but in the end I don’t think this is really an ideological issue. One way or another, I suspect that the private healthcare system in America will eventually find itself unable to cope with the strain, and some kind of centralized system will become inevitable.

The free market is indeed endlessly creative, but we don’t really have a free market in healthcare today anyway, and the incentives of our current system are perverse. At some point there is going to have to be dramatic change, and it’s hard not to think that we’d be better off doing it sooner than later. Sadly, like Max’s frog, we probably won’t.

POSTSCRIPT: I’ve always been curious about one aspect of this debate: where is the business community in all this? Currently, businesses have to pay for healthcare for their employees and they also have to manage the entire process themselves, something they all hate. It’s pure deadweight administrative loss to them. So why is it that they haven’t pushed their own party to support public healthcare more strongly in order to get it off their own plates?

And a legal question: suppose the government supplied universal healthcare to everyone. What would happen to the current contracts between management and labor unions to provide healthcare to unionized workers? They can’t just be unilaterally abrogated, but at the same time they wouldn’t make much sense anymore, would they? What’s the answer to this?

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation