Uwe Reinhardt has an interesting piece on Health Affairs Blog (click here for the article) regarding the ideological gulf that exists in this country. His observations stem from watching the recent health reform “summit” in which said ideological gulf was on display. In his post, Mr.. Reinhardt describes the gap between leftward leaning politicians and Americans (“plebs” as he describes them) and more rightward leaning ones. He poses ten health system characteristics shared by most American plebs. Americans want a system that:
- Lets only patients and their own physicians determine how to respond clinically to a given medical condition, never an insurance clerk or, even worse, government bureaucrats.
- Limits their families’ out-of-pocket payments for health care to make it “affordable.”
- Keeps insurance premiums and taxes for health care low.
- Does not ever ration health care, because that is un-American and practiced only by un-American alien nations with inferior health systems.
- Does not allow public or private insurers to let “costs” or “cost-effectiveness” ever enter coverage decisions, because that would implicitly put a price on human life which, in America, unlike elsewhere in the world, is priceless.
- Does not mandate individuals to purchase health insurance, if they do not wish to do so, if for no other reason than that this would be unconstitutional and, therefore, un-American.
- On the other hand, grants every American the moral right – backed up by a government mandate called EMTALA– to receive critically needed and possibly high cost health care from hospitals and their affiliated doctors, even if they are uninsured and could not possibly pay for that expensive care with their own resources.
- Controls Medicare spending, which is widely thought to be completely out of control, as long as it does not reduce payments to hospitals or to doctors or to producers of medical technology, or to any other provider of health care.
- Provides universal health insurance coverage to all Americans, provided it does not mean raising taxes or cutting Medicare spending or raising premiums on healthy Americans.
- Keeps government out of health care but somehow makes sure that insurance companies do not exploit patients through incomprehensible fine print, no one engages in price gouging – e.g., charge $10 for an aspirin — and no one in health care earns excessive profits (or any at all).
To which I would say: Is that all? Piece of cake.