Drug Runaround: Solved by Universal Health Care?


A letter writer in the July 12, 2008 Wichita Eagle has issues with his health insurance coverage, and wants us to discard our present system in favor of universal health care coverage.

Mr. Ronald Voth of Halstead (a candidate for the Democratic party nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives for the fourth district of Kansas in 2006) criticizes the health insurance company he uses. He doesn’t say how he obtained this coverage, but if he’s like most Americans that don’t receive their health care from the government, he and his family probably have an insurance policy selected and paid for by his employer. While many employers let their employees choose from a few variations of coverage, for most employees, they have to take what their employer is willing to provide. There isn’t much of a market for individual health insurance policies in America.

If there were a large market for private health insurance, customers would have the benefit of companies competing for your business in free markets. This means that if Mr. Voth doesn’t like the coverage he’s getting from his current provider, he can change. But for most people whose policies are provided and largely paid for by their employers, switching insurance carriers is not a realistic option. This employer-provided coverage, a relic from the circumvention of World War II price controls, results in less competition for customers.

With market-based competition comes innovation. With universal health care provided by government comes the opposite. I wonder if Mr. Voth knows that Canadians come to places like Wichita to get the health care they can’t get under their universal system? See Wichita’s Galichia Provides What Government Health Care Doesn’t.

Mr. Voth claims that universal care systems in other countries are cheaper than ours, and that’s true. But we should ask why. The article referenced below states: “… because the U.S. is so much wealthier than other countries, it isn’t unreasonable for it to spend more on health care. Take America’s high spending on research and development. M. D. Anderson in Texas, a prominent cancer center, spends more on research than Canada does.”

(By the way, the high cost of health care can’t be blamed on high-paid CEO’s. If the CEO of a large insurance company that has 10 million customers is paid, say, $100 million a year, that’s only $10 per customer per year.)

For more information about universal health care in other countries, the article The Ugly Truth About Canadian Health Care provides balanced criticism of the Canadian health care system.


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