Dealing with Malcontents

Frontline’s “Sick Around the World” presented an informative view on the different approaches to healthcare in rich countries around the world. In a webcast discussing the different systems Uwe Reinhardt, professor of health economics at Princeton, emphasized the ethics involved. He said they fell into three categories.

  1. healthcare is available to everyone on an equal basis and financed by ability-to pay (the Taiwan-Canada approach).
  2. #1, however a small, wealthy elite is allowed to opt-out of the universal system and get their own coverage (the European approach.)
  3. healthcare is a private consumption good to be rationed on the basis of ability to pay (the United States.)

As to why Europeans have developed #2, a system in which wealthy elites can opt out, Reinhardt says

“some say it’s a design flaw, and in some regard it is, however it’s a safety valve. You want to get the malcontents out of the system. So they can have their own thing and for the 90% of the rest of us we can do our thing”.

I suspect that is exactly what will happen in America if we are ever to get universal coverage. The wealthy malcontents will have to be bought off.

Reinhartdt’s ten minutes on this webcast is awesome. His emphasis on the ethics healthcare and the right of everyone to dignity is inspiring. Listen to it here.

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1 Comment

Filed under dignity, healthcare finance

One response to “Dealing with Malcontents

  1. Pingback: Hanging out at McCain 08 « dwightinsight

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