April 10, 2003

Universal health care

I just went to a great talk by Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of economics at Princeton, on the viability of universal health care in this country. The words were very pessimistic, but the attitude was not defeatist; his goal (eventually stated explicitly) was to build our level of anger so that we would not just say "yes, that's a good idea", but actively fight for it.

I'm reminded of a phrase Arianna Huffington likes to throw around: "sustained outrage"---the duty of every progressive, especially these days.

We spend so much money on health care in this country---more per capita than any other, even after adjusting for pretty much anything you can adjust for---and yet, for the average joe, it's not that much better. And for the poorer-than-average joe, it's not even available, or if it is it's even more expensive. Anytime we discover a new Object of Compassion (OC), and decide to give funded access to health care to the OC, we spend so much time, energy, and money to erect barriers---to prevent even a single non-OC from benefitting from our magnanimity---that we end up spending less on care and more on administration than (say) Germany, and we don't even manage to cover all the OCs.

So sad.

"I have never seen such passion for foetuses as here in the US, but as soon as you take one breath of oxygen, it's 'you're on your own, kid.'" --Uwe Reinhardt Posted by blahedo at 6:59pm on 10 Apr 2003

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