US Healthcare Reform: Possible Choices

The United States’ health care system is a patchwork of private care, Medicare for seniors, Medicaid for some of the poor, and emergency-only care for the 47M uninsured. Both presidential candidates insist that change is needed, with increased coverage and decreased costs as primary goals. Neither candidate mentions how public dollars will be rationed, though government resources are limited.

Here’s a list of a range of health care systems in place around the world, with the most market-oriented systems listed first, and the most government controlled systems listed last. The future of American health care will mostly take the form of one of the middle options, as both extremes appear politically unpalatable.

US Health Care System Choices:

Health Care System Description Found Where
Traditional Free Market Little government intervention, patients pay health care providers directly. Those without financial means rely on charity hospitals or receive no care. India, many developing countries
Public Senior Care + Semi-Free Market The government provides health care for seniors, while others rely on a regulated private health insurance market (whether purchased individually or through an employer). United States
Public Care for Children and Seniors The government provides health care for seniors and children, while others rely primarily on the private health insurance market (whether purchased individually or through an employer). Barack Obama’s health care plan approximates this
Mandatory Health Insurance The government requires that all individuals purchase health insurance, and provides subsidies to assist the poor and unhealthy in purchasing coverage. Massachusetts, Hillary Clinton’s Plan
Dual Public-Private System The government provides health care for all residents not enrolled in private care, and provides incentives for employers to provide health care and for individuals to purchase care. Individuals may also pay extra to supplement their basic government plan. Australia
Single Payer, Private Premium Care The government provides health care for all residents, and individuals can choose to pay extra for premium health care services (like private rooms, experimental treatments, etc). France, other European countries
Single Payer Only The government pays for all health care, and does not allow private market health care transactions. Canada

2 thoughts on “US Healthcare Reform: Possible Choices

  1. Of course you will have left something out… But nonetheless the comparisons and subsequent analysis from what you’ve displayed already should make a suitable impact. Although I think you could take the stats a bit further, using other government expenses. Troops in Iraq being one example.

  2. Let me know if I’ve left out any major forms of health care delivery currently in practice in other countries. My goal here is to list the full range of options available as we rethink American health care.

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