As I’ve said before, I’m for universal health care, though not, I confess, on President Obama’s model. Nor on any model that’s being advanced by anyone.

I think the President’s model would be a disaster, combining the worst of the British and Canadian systems (rationing) with the worst of the American systems (huge overhead, massive lawsuits).

I urge every reader to take a look at this article in the liberal journal (I use liberal, as I often do, in the best sense of the word) The Atlantic.

It’s a thoughtful article (despite the title, “How American Health Care Killed My Father”) from a liberal Democrat.

A brief excerpt:

All of the actors in health care—from doctors to insurers to pharmaceutical companies—work in a heavily regulated, massively subsidized industry full of structural distortions. They all want to serve patients well. But they also all behave rationally in response to the economic incentives those distortions create. Accidentally, but relentlessly, America has built a health-care system with incentives that inexorably generate terrible and perverse results. Incentives that emphasize health care over any other aspect of health and well-being.

And then… words that make total sense:

To achieve maximum coverage at acceptable cost with acceptable quality, health care will need to become subject to the same forces that have boosted efficiency and value throughout the economy. We will need to reduce, rather than expand, the role of insurance; focus the government’s role exclusively on things that only government can do (protect the poor, cover us against true catastrophe, enforce safety standards, and ensure provider competition); overcome our addiction to Ponzi-scheme financing, hidden subsidies, manipulated prices, and undisclosed results; and rely more on ourselves, the consumers, as the ultimate guarantors of good service, reasonable prices, and sensible trade-offs between health-care spending and spending on all the other good things money can buy.

This really is the “Third Way”. It would cause drastic reductions in insurance company revenues, and simultaneously end the drooling dark desire of demented public-sector unions and perverse profligate politicians to control this segment of our economy. (Sure, I’m being harsher on the unions and politicians than the super-evil insurance companies; what did you expect?) And the super-evil insurance companies aren’t that evil… check out their profits and pay by sector — they rank somewhere around #86; decidedly mediocre.

Oh, and for whatever it’s worth, I have a great deal of understanding re what Mr. Goldhill wrote:

Almost two years ago, my father was killed by a hospital-borne infection in the intensive-care unit of a well-regarded nonprofit hospital in New York City. Dad had just turned 83, and he had a variety of the ailments common to men of his age. But he was still working on the day he walked into the hospital with pneumonia. Within 36 hours, he had developed sepsis.

Couple years back, my own beloved Dad, only in his mid 60’s, contracted the exact same infection — sepsis — after surgery in a [redacted] hospital. Generally, people refused to believe he was seriously ill until it was nearly too late. My mother, in a panic, called me to drive down. I didn’t drive; I flew. I stood in their living room, looking at a shivering, barely coherent, gray man. I phoned his doctor and was told it was probably just the flu; to leave it a day or two.

I figured [redacted] would be the best place for him. So I bundled him in the rented SUV I had and started driving. Fast. Got my mom to work the phone, searching for a friend of the family who could get us in.

And the attitude I faced from some, throughout this was implicitly… “Honey, he’s African American. Average lifespan is 68.” Very few came out and said it. But after asking where he was born… yeah. You got it. 68 was what I heard a lot. Endless variants that I was too upset to recall, of “A good innings”, and there I betray my time spent abroad.

So when you ask me if Sarah Palin’s somewhat unfair and propagandistic “death panel” comments resonate with me… I say yeah. Yeah they do.

And so does the article I’ve linked. Unlike the death panel comments, I think it can genuinely add to and extend the dialogue on health care.


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