Harvard Biz-school’s Regina Herzlinger is one of the architects of the consumer-driven healthcare revolution. And she gets it mostly right in this interview:
Well, essentially the problem is that you and I have taken part of our salaries and given them to our employers to use in buying health insurance on our behalf. There is no way they could buy our clothes or our homes or anything else as well as we can — and they don’t do a very good job of buying health insurance, either. The only reason we’ve done that is because they can use our salaries pre-tax to buy health insurance … The same problem — i.e., a third party buying on our behalf — also holds for Medicare, where the purchasing is done by the U.S. government, and for Medicaid, where the purchasing is done by state and local governments.
So the biggest problem with our health care system is that the agents we have appointed to take care of health insurance and health care — which are the government and businesses — are not very good at it.
Just one problem: she wants individual mandates, which means she wants everyone to be forced to buy healthcare. While there is something to the argument that subsidizing people to get private care and requiring they get it keeps them off Medicaid (which taxpayers fund anyway), it is somewhat offensive to the idea of individual freedom. It’s also weird to require Bill Gates to get insurance. It’s also proven not to work that great in Massachusettes. Finally, if you were poor and the government gave you a stipend to buy healthcare, wouldn’t you? No need for government except to issue checks.