Thursday, February 05, 2009

# Posted 1:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THREE CHEERS FOR THE EUROPEAN* HEALTH CARE SYSTEM: Jurgen Reinhoudt at New Majority takes a look at several European health care systems and points out that the Swiss looks almost exactly like what conservatives might hope for in this country. He quotes the following summary by a management prof at Harvard:
The country of Switzerland has universal coverage, costs that are 40% lower than ours and that inflate at lower rates, and an excellent health care system in terms of outcomes and resources. The key to their success is that the Swiss system is consumer-driven: consumers buy their own health insurance from more than 90 private health insurance firms. If they cannot afford it, the cantons subsidize it. If they are sick, they pay no more for their health insurance than the well (the Swiss insurers risk-adjust each other).

(Hat tip: DS)
(1) opinions -- Add your opinion

It's hard to see how this counts as Universal Health Care in the sense that it gets discussed here. When I read Reinhoudt's piece, I'll be particularly interested in his discussion of how they deal with the people who simply choose not to buy health insurance. In the U.S., that figure (those who could afford insurance but choose to spend their money on something else) arguably makes up a majority of the uninsured (depending on your definition of "could afford").

How could a system of private insurers really be universal?

And, of course, the issue nearly universally ignored in discussions of universal health care--medical innovation. It's no coincidence that the U.S. is both the only industrialized nation lacking universal health coverage and the source of nearly all medical inventions and breakthroughs. Those two things are connected.

One has to wonder, at least a little bit, about how all the other health systems will manage when they are no longer able to free ride on the U.S. system. For instance, reimportation of prescription drugs is only an issue because the drugs are cheaper elsewhere and they are cheaper elsewhere because the foreign markets are subsidized by the U.S. market. There are many similar examples of others' paying less only because we pay more.

Anyway, those are my reservations. I'll be surprised if they get addressed in the article, but I will read it.
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