Other nations have health care systems that work well
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In praising the Supreme Court decision to uphold the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, columnist David Brooks ("Modesty and Audacity," July 2) displays some audacity of his own.
He asserts that no one on Earth has any insight into what actually works when it comes to making universal health coverage affordable.
This is an astonishing thing to say, given how many existing models there are to borrow from. Every other industrialized nation has already figured out not only how to provide universal coverage but how to do it at less expense and with better health outcomes.
His genuine concern is this: Although the individual mandate ensures universal coverage it does little to control costs. He observes that it leaves our current medical malpractice, record-keeping, fee-for-service and taxation systems virtually unchanged -- the very things that allow the health care industry to remain insanely profitable while providing an inferior service that is currently inaccessible to millions.
Fortunately, the other industrialized countries have already worked out solutions to these problems. These models either centralize the provision, administration and payment of health care, or tightly regulate the insurance market, or some combination of these. But not all systems are socialized like those of the Canadians and the British. Economic powerhouses like Germany and the hyper-capitalistic Japanese have developed market-based solutions.
Finally, Mr. Brooks audaciously trusts our political process to "play out" and result in successful "innovation." I can't share his enthusiasm when the process is controlled by people like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who can't even recognize the moral crisis present in the fact of 30 million uninsured people. Lacking even a plan for cost control, all he can manage to identify is what he doesn't want. "Let me tell you what we're not going to do," he said recently on Fox News. "We're not going to turn the American health care system into a Western European system."
Of course not. That would really be audacious.
First Published July 11, 2012 12:00 am