Health Insurance A Public, Not Private Good

Armen Hareyan's picture
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"Health care is a classic public good that should be supported by asocial compact: The healthy should pay into the system to underwritecare for those who need it now, both as a matter of civic morality andself-interest," columnist Chris Satullo writes in a Philadelphia Inquireropinion piece. He notes that public goods "include things such aseducation, clean air and health care," adding, "These things are notthe same as toaster ovens. Public policy that pretends they are isdoomed to fail."

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Conservatives' "market-besotted health careideas, such as medical savings accounts, seek to explode that compact"because they see health care as a private good, according to Satullo.The "wrong-headed view has been on display in recent weeks as Congressdebated" SCHIP reauthorization and expansion legislation, according toSatullo.

He says that the Democratic approach to health carereform "also has many flaws, chiefly its addiction to the never-wiseand now collapsing idea of workplace coverage." He continues, "What'sneeded is a brave new strategy, tied neither to Democratic/unionnostalgia for workplace coverage nor to Republican market theology." Heconcludes that "only the feds can really do what's needed: Organize themarket rationally so it covers all at a basic level, wastes less andoffers consumers intelligible, workable choices" (Satullo, Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/7).
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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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