13 August 2009

A not-so-novel experiment

On his website, Stephen Hicks has the following bold proposal:

I think we have to consider sacrificing Maryland. Some of my best friends are Marylanders. Nothing personal, guys, but this healthcare thing is important, and there’s only one way to break the impasse: hard scientific experimenting. Here is the plan. We isolate Maryland and turn it into a giant test case. We send in a crack team of government healthcare administrators to run the place. We give them some billions of dollars and a free hand. And we leave the rest of the country alone (especially Illinois). And after five years we’ll know one way or the other: Maryland the shining exemplar of robust health. Or not.

Hmmm. Or we could save ourselves five years and simply look at how the rest of the world runs their healthcare system and compare it to the U.S. "experiment" over the last couple decades. If we did the comparison, we'd find, using statistics from pretty much any reliable source, that the U.S. healthcare system is far more expensive, and that the other health systems (e.g., those of France, Germany, England, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and Japan) beat the U.S. system in terms of actual outcomes using pretty much any meaningful measure (life expectancy, infant mortality, satisfaction, and so on). But I guess Hicks humorous proposal at least does what it's meant to do: paint attempts at reforming the broken U.S. system as wildly risky and untested and the current system as somehow natural and inevitable. Personally, I suggest we create a national system and then let Illinois continue with the grand U.S. experiment, trusting healthcare providers, insurance companies, and drug lobbies to suddenly start cutting costs and premiums.

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