Daily Archives: November 24, 2009

Two Options

Robert Reich laments the dilution of the public option here. In his witty post, he cites the oft-made comparison between the Canadian and U.S. health care systems, particularly in terms of their cost (in terms of % of GDP) and their coverage (or lack thereof). That got me to thinking, what if, instead of a myriad of options, we had only two: Canada or the U.S.

Better yet, I thought, what if the options were framed in a way in which you could better relate to them? What would you choose then? Here they are:

Option A: You can insure everyone in your family and it will cost you 10% of your household income, or….

Option B: You can insure 5 out of every 6 members of your family and it will cost you 16% of your household income.

So what’s it gonna be? Option A or Option B? I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but Option A represents the Canadian system and Option B a slightly more generous system than that in the U.S. How we continue to be okay with paying more while getting less is beyond me. Could someone please tell me what it is about Option B that makes it such an attractive choice?

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Posted by on November 24, 2009 in Uncategorized


U.S. Health Reform = War In Afghanistan ?

One of my favorite health economists is back again. This time, Uwe Reinhardt makes comparisons between the U.S. health care system and the nation of Afghanistan. In fact, he sees reform much like the Afghan war. He writes:

“…both are basically tribal systems that historically have fiercely resisted the constraints of any coherent national policy…The tribal chiefs in our health system are the heads of the myriad of associations that have been formed by the various economic interest groups who define ‘health care spending’ as ‘health care incomes.'”

He goes on to compare lobbyists to insurgents who write checks rather than shoot weapons. I don’t know if it’s the best analogy, but it is certainly entertaining reading. The real question–and the one Uwe poses at the end of his article–is which victory the U.S. will achieve first: passing meaningful health care reform or winning the war in Afghanistan?

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Posted by on November 24, 2009 in Uncategorized

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