Since we had a pretty good response to the environmental discussion last weekend I thought I would start a new topic for this pre-Inaugural weekend. Wanting to shy away from the more controversial subjects I thought I’d go with a tame one like….. Health Care Reform.

I presume it goes without saying that we all agree that there is a problem, that our current health care system is incredibly messed up and that unless we make some major reforms in the coming years we will experience a major meltdown.

Speaking for myself I am open to any solution from pure free market to single payer nationalized, the key issue is that the proposed system will actually work rather than simply create new problems or just make us feel better for a while.

On first glance I am not hopeful that a pure free market setup will work. While we don’t really have such a system now we did in the past and things didn’t work very well in terms of providing full coverage. For profit systems do have their advantages in terms of pushing innovations and also in enabling hospitals to obtain the newest equipment.

But they have the flaw of being for profit and thus being unable to provide services to everyone. If you are trying to make a profit then you can’t really care for those who need tons of free services.

On the opposite end of the scale I am also doubtful about a full blown nationalized single payer solution to the problem. Like the free market idea the single payer program has both good and bad points. On the good side it provides coverage to everyone, so people do not fall through the cracks.

But on the bad side because they are basically in the business of rationing health care the coverage provided to everyone is not always the best. We’ve all seen stories about long waiting lists in places like Canada and Europe where people with non life threatening conditions have to wait months on end to have pretty important procedures.

Because both extremes provide both good and bad soliutions, my guess is that the ultimate solution to the problem will probably be some mix of both free market and government and that the real question will be what kind of mix.

PATRICK EDABURN, Assistant Editor
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