22 May 2008

Time predicts healthcare reform

Last week's Time Magazine's cover story was on the economic mess that the next president will need to clean up. The piece ends with a couple paragraphs on healthcare:
Then there's health care, which has become perhaps the biggest source of financial worry and occasional disaster among middle-class Americans. A 2005 study found that half of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. were attributable at least in part to medical costs.

But there's real hope on this front. It is possible to conceive of a system that brings the 47 million uninsured into the fold, improves medical outcomes and costs less than what we've got now. It's possible to conceive of because many other wealthy countries already have such systems. Figuring out exactly how to make universal health care work in the U.S. is a matter better left to its own lengthy magazine article. But if you're looking for big economic change from the next Administration, this is the form it's most likely to take.
I find that comforting. It means that mainstream journalists, who aren't likely to be single-payer advocates but who are likely to be better read than the average American (not all, but it is part of the job) now get it. This writer, in any case, knows that the data is there. Other countries have shown that healthcare investment can be managed far better than we've accomplished.

There is a real chance that we'll see change in the next five years - perhaps not true universal healthcare via single-payer, but surely steps in that direction.

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