Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Universal Health Care - Or Market Mayhem?

I've been curious about the new Massachusetts plan for "universal health coverage." The state is not going to a single-payer plan, but rather requiring all citizens to purchase a plan in the private market from existing providers. There will be a new state plan for the lowest income citizens who cannot afford to purchase health insurance any other way.

PERRspectives.com has a good analysis of why this model won't work nationally. This market-based "solution" fails, according to PERRspectives, mainly on the assumption that there actually is a working market. While there may be some regions where there is competition - an in theory a price benefit as a result of that competition - in most areas health care is dominated by one or two large players. "In North Dakota, for example, Blue Shield owns 90% of the market."

The Massachusetts plan does cover everybody, sort of. But it does nothing to address the spiraling costs of health care, which is at the heart of our health care crisis, and why tens of millions of Americans are without insurance in the first place.

The Massachusetts plan is this: Business refuses to cover the cost of health care, Government is afraid to cover the cost, so individuals are forced to shoulder it all. No wonder it has bi-partisan support.

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