04 March 2010

Healthcare

A letter to the editor of The New York Times:

"To the Editor:

After reading Robert B. Reich’s article, I cannot help but ask what may seem a naïve question. He writes, “America’s five largest health insurers made a total profit of $12.2 billion last year.” When is this country going to realize that health care should not be a for-profit industry but a basic human right in a civilized society? Where did those $12.2 billion go, or rather, where did they not go?

As long as we are unable, as a country, to face this question, everything else in the health care debate seems irrelevant and a paltry response to our problems. Colette Windish

Mobile, Ala., Feb. 24, 2010"

I don't think $12.2 billion is going to do anything miraculous in this country. We spend trillions per year on problems and they still aren't solved; $12 billion isn't going to fix anything. But that's beside the point. The ultimate result is this: Remove the profit motive from the health insurance industry, and you remove the availability of health insurance to those who can afford it now. I thought the goal of health care reform was to get more people insured, not less.

For some reason it seems that most talk about health care reform frames the problem in the following manner: in order to get more people insured, we have to make health insurance less expensive. I'm not so sure this is the best way to think about the problem.