Reforming health care

When governments run health care, the results are always the same. We see it in countries all over the world: longer waiting lines, less incentive to improve quality and higher taxes. Care is rationed. It's the only way to keep costs down, says Mike Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services in the U.S.

However, the results are different when government organises a competitive health-care marketplace:

  • Prices drop and quality rises as providers compete for business.

  • Innovation blossoms as the market rewards risk-taking.

  • People enjoy more choices and better access to higher quality, lower cost care.

    This approach is why America has the finest system of private medicine in the world. And it's why over 150,000 Canadians and countless more people from other countries go to the U.S. each year for health care, explains Leavitt.

    To that end, there are a number of reforms that need to be taken:

  • The Children's Health Insurance Programme should be re-authorised but redirected toward its original target – low-income, uninsured children.

  • Competition-based reforms like Medicare Advantage and Medicare's new prescription-drug benefit need to be encouraged.

  • States need to be empowered to organise the marketplace to make private insurance more affordable for all Americans.

  • Congress needs to fix federal tax policy to eliminate the blatant tax discrimination against those who buy health insurance on their own and not through their employers.

    In sum, competition is the key, says Leavitt. Only the free choices of American consumers and the competition of an organised marketplace can keep costs in check and make certain that every American is insured.

    Source: Mike Leavitt, Reforming Health Care, Washington Times, July 9, 2007.

    For text:

    For more on Health Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 17 July 2007
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