United States needs to cure health-care cost disease

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Opinion

November 12, 2019 - 10:08 AM

By this point, everyone knows that the U.S. health-care system is fundamentally broken. But every plan to fix it runs into a fusillade of opposition. This dynamic could be seen in the reaction to the Affordable Care Act, which remained unpopular for years after its passage. The Obamacare system substantially reduced the number of Americans who were uninsured, but costs kept growing:

Most recently, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s plan to pay for national health insurance has drawn criticism from both the right and the left, largely because of its cost. Bernie Sanders, who envisions a similar insurance system, promises that his funding plan will be more progressive than Warren’s. The expense of his proposal will undoubtedly receive even more fire from centrists and conservatives.

Why is it so hard to agree on a health-care plan? One obvious possibility: Reform plans feel as intolerable as the status quo while lacking the promise of lowering costs. The U.S.’s uniquely dysfunctional hybrid public-private system has resulted in the country devoting a much higher share of its output to health care than its rich-world peers.

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