Democracy Under Assault
Acknowledging that the U.S. spends on average twice as much money on health care as other industrialized nations, and has overall worse outcomes, Paul Krugman’s & Robin Wells’ commentary ("The Health Care Crisis and What to Do About It," The New York Review of Books, 3/23/06) is a good overview of the problem of U.S. health care and why employer-provided health care is unraveling. The authors attribute the U.S. health care crisis in part to high dependence on fragmented, for–profit private insurances, hospitals and numerous middlemen that add cost without adding value.
Noting "the strange persistence, in the teeth of all available evidence, of the belief that the private sector can provide health insurance more efficiently than the government," Krugman and Wells remark that free-market ideology is "wholly inappropriate to health care issues." As many observe, health is not a commodity, like a car or house. Krugman and Wells note that failure of political will to stand up to the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies is a key factor to lack of meaningful health care reform. Lacking political will to push for the economically smarter single payer system, the authors say "things will have to get much worse before reality can break through the combination of powerful interest groups and free-market ideology."
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