Even though the government’s feel-good pledge to rein in healthcare costs is doomed to fail, or will result piddly improvements, focusing on costs is at least the right idea. Cost is everything.
If healthcare (miraculously) got really cheep, then the universal care part would solve itself. We don’t need universal coverage for eating french fries cause they’re so cheap.
Unfortunately, we’ll probably end up putting the cart in front of the horse, or at least putting the cart right next to the horse, by trying to solve the universal care problem at the same time, or even before, we get costs down. That’s going to be an expensive mess. It will result in more expensive, poorer quality overall care.
But the drive towards universal coverage is too powerful to be stopped.
So how about this: Rather than providing full, Blue Collar/Blue Shield coverage courtesy of Uncle Sam, the government could sell (to pretty much anyone) some form of high-deductible, catastrophe insurance. It would be cheap, it would not appeal to everyone, and unlike the stupid policies many of us have now, it would actually be insurance — as in, it would insure against surprise events,rather than just serve as a 3rd party payer for all medical issues, regardless of whether they were expected.
This way, the government could legitimately say it’s offering health insurance to anyone who wanted it, it would be affordable, and it wouldn’t supplant the full-service care that people have now. If you or your employer want to pay for your current full-service policy, that’d be fine.
The one problem is that private industry can (and does) offer this kind of high-deductible insurance on the market, even to unemployed (or independent) workers. It’s just that few people know about it and it’s criminally underused.
If nothing else, the government — by entering this space and really marketing the offer — could get private businesses (insurance companies and employers who pay for a lot of people’s health insurance) to get off their duffs and promote this alternative to a better form of insurance.