With all of the heat, and very little light, being produced in the debate over what we as a nation can do about health care for our citizens it would seem that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different solutions being put forward. the problem is, when you boil it down there seem to be only four.
First, just leave things alone. The problem with this approach is that time is not on our side. If we do nothing about the ever increasing cost of health care itself, and the ever increasing number of people who cannot afford or qualify for health insurance, the whole endeavor is likely to just crash and burn. As noted in the last post, uninsured "Free Riders," put an unsustainable burden on the system. At the same time, drugs, treatments, tests and therapies are all increasing in cost at a rate far in excess of inflation. We will simply not be able to care for sick people if something isn't done. Then, add in the 10,000 Boomers reaching Medicare age each day and the ever increasing number of folks in need who must rely on Medicaid and this house of cards will come tumbling down.
Second, we could mandate that people buy insurance. Thus, the much hated on the right Individual Mandate. This idea, which anyone who has any sense of what's going on in the real world knows, as opposed to pretty much the entire GOP, was a conservative concept that would force individual responsibility (yes, that is an oxymoron) and thus end the era of Free Riders. With everyone in the insurance pool, including the young and healthy, everyone can be covered and the cost of insurance should go down. Of course, this idea by itself does nothing about the cost of care but with everyone insured market forces brought to bear by the insurance companies should hold down the cost of care. Maybe. Sort of. We hope.
Third, we could stop treating the uninsured. This is the "let them die," option. Simply put, if the mandate to care creates the Free Rider problem then doing away with that mandate should solve it. It's not pretty and there isn't an office seeker, except maybe for Ron Paul, who would ever advocate such a change, but it would solve the problem. And as I said in the last post, it sure would get people to buy health insurance.
I don't think that we as a nation want to go that route, but given the political rhetoric out there right now, who knows. I'm thinking that Ted Nugent might like this one.
Forth, we could adopt a "Single Payer," system. You know, the dreaded (by the right) Universal Healthcare model that exists in every other industrialized nation on Earth. Call it Medicare for all or call it socialized medicine, the end result is the same. Everyone has health insurance and can get treatment. Costs are contained in much the same way as under Medicare today or we adopt more of a UK model where the doctors, nurses and technicians work for the government itself. If this were a new idea that had never been tried before I could certainly understand being careful. But this system works and it works all over the world. It really isn't un-American to borrow ideas from abroad.
Finely, I should include a fifth. That would be whatever the hell the Republicans want to replace Obamacare with. We don't know what that is. Maybe there are just four.