Why Universal Coverage Won't Make Americans Healthier: Or 'Quality, Economical & Doable Health Insurance' (QED) & Other Oxymorons of the (Insane) Political Mind

20 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2007

See all articles by Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

Institute of World Politics; International Program in Bioethics, U. of Porto; Foundation for Law and Science Centers, Inc.

Date Written: November 9, 2007

Abstract

The political solution to our health crisis appears to be an expanded health coverage program, perhaps universal and mandatory. Increased coverage is expected to result in affordable (and available) care, which will translate into earlier diagnoses and more effective treatment, which in turn will manifest in lower national health costs. Admitting that any feasible program requires lowering health costs, the premise becomes: "early diagnosis means lower costs."

In essence, we plan to treat the nation's poor health based on a flawed diagnosis: lack of insurance. We presume that more care means better care; that more available care means more utilized care; and that the care will prevent the root causes of whatever ails us. Rather than focusing on lowering costs - by showering everyone with generic care and screening - our initial focus should be identifying precise causes and the best cures for the nation's illnesses - and in determining whether past data are representative of the current population and will reflect future disease mortality and morbidity

Further, we amalgamate private complaints with national concerns. The private patient (voter) is dissatisfied with personal care and expensive costs. The government is dissatisfied with our nation's poor health statistics and comparatively high costs compared to other developed countries. The good politician is concerned with both. Yet, the best approaches to solving these problems are not necessarily the same.

This article will illustrate how the driving causes of the nation's poor health will not be addressed by more insurance or cheaper policies. Rather, I suggest that the root-cause underlying the poor health statistics is more complex than a lack of medical ministrations. Instead, it would appear our national mortality and morbidity is a manifestation of our societal, economic and psychological standing. And these must be addressed first, if we are to achieve our due place in the health hierarchy of the world.

Keywords: health care, health insurance, health coverage

JEL Classification: D61, D63, G22, H51, I11, I12, I81, 131, J28, K13

Suggested Citation

Billauer, Barbara P., Why Universal Coverage Won't Make Americans Healthier: Or 'Quality, Economical & Doable Health Insurance' (QED) & Other Oxymorons of the (Insane) Political Mind (November 9, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1028644 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1028644

Barbara P. Billauer (Contact Author)

Institute of World Politics ( email )

1521 16th St NW,
Washington, DC
United States
+1 202-462-2101 (Phone)

International Program in Bioethics, U. of Porto ( email )

Rua Dr. Roberto Frias
4200-464 Porto
Portugal

Foundation for Law and Science Centers, Inc. ( email )

1020 16th Street NW
Suite LL1
Washington, DC 20036
United States
972 54 344 6055 (Phone)

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