Friday, November 06, 2009

Universal Health Care Now

If you are so lucky as to have a congressional representative and you think that everyone should have access to affordable health care, now might be a good time to give them a call. Tell them to support the strongest possible health bill and ensure that it passes. [Update: It passed.]

Of course, there's a lot not to like about this bill: (a) It's not single-payer, (b) if it does end up including a public option it may be so weak as to not be worth it, (c) it doesn't do anything to break the link between employment and insurance, and (d) it probably doesn't do enough to control costs. [Update: (e) odious amendment from Stupak.]

Still, Ezra Klein and Jon Cohn seem to think it will be better than the status quo. Plus a bad law is likely to be improved, but if reform doesn't happen this year, it may be another 15 years before the political system garners the courage to try again.

There's been a lot written on this topic, but here's a tab dump of some articles I thought were worth-reading:
  • Our current system is ridiculously expensive. Why the hell do we pay four times more than Canada for basic medication?

    Ezra Klein has lots more charts like this one and he got them from an insurance CEO so they're not some pinko commie plot. There's a similar report by McKinsey Consulting that comes to the same conclusion -- Americans overpay for healthcare something like $1,600 per person a year. This New Yorker article by Atul Gawande tries to explain why things cost so much more in the U.S.

  • Despite all that cash, we don't really have better health outcomes. This report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concludes: "the evidence for American superiority in quality of care (or lack thereof) is a mixed bag, with the nation doing relatively well in some areas—such as cancer care—and less well in others—such as mortality from treatable and preventable conditions."

  • The system is inhumane. This interview with Wendell Potter--a former health exec who had something of a conversion experience after witnessing low-income Americans waiting in line overnight for a free health clinic in Tennessee--is very revealing.

  • Reform should be good for small businesses. Well, not as good as single-payer would be, but if you believe the White House -- it should be better than what we've got.

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