Universal Health Caring
Michael Millenson asserts in today’s WaPo that the primary obstacle to universal health coverage in the United States is that “Those of us with insurance simply don’t care very much about those without it.” Dave Schuler is a wee bit skeptical:
[I]magine how wonderful a perpetual motion machine would be. It could easily be converted into a generator and would produce energy forever at no cost. For that matter how about a universal cure that could be produced easily and inexpensively? That would be sure to keep costs down!
He goes on to list six other obstacles more “major” than dearth of empathy that would be necessary to achieve universal coverage.
Clarification (Dave Schuler)
The author of the WaPo op-ed conflates universal coverage and universal access. They’re two different things. I think that improving access is more important than extending coverage for the simple reason that poor access lowers the worth of universal coverage and at worst renders it economically unsustainable.
To effect the sort of systemic change required for massively improved access to health care would require compassion at a truly enormous scale not merely on the part of lawmakers and people who already have health insurance but on the part of health care professionals, medical educators, and many, many more. Even with compassion at that scale it takes some tough decision making and level-headed planning.
The very first session of the very first economics class I ever took was on the old guns vs. butter example. That’s what I thought was missing from the op-ed.