We are NOT Switzerland
On the front page of the New York Times Thursday there was a great article on how the Swiss have managed to reform their healthcare system by providing coverage to all Swiss citizens, while lowering overall costs – all with no rationing of care. Good for the Swiss. I am not going to tell you how they did it because you can read the newspaper on your own by going to www.nytimes.com. In all fairness, the Swiss have some good ideas. But for that matter, so do the British, French, Germans, and countless other countries. You know what, so does America. The Baucus/Finance Committee bill, which was supposed to be crafted as bi-partisan and actually does have some republican and democrat ideas (it was drafted by republicans and democrats before the group of six fell apart), could actually transform the American healthcare system. This includes providing insurance to all Americans (or as many as possible to start), lowering costs (the bill has to be budget neutral), and make everyone responsible on some level for their healthcare (individual mandate).
Here is the problem; Congress is having a hard time finding compromise and agreeing on something that we can call a starting point in healthcare reform. The Swiss did it with a government mandate, including restrictive price controls, higher cost sharing, and placing financial limits of physician practice and suppliers. Also, no Candian style of rationing care in Switzerland. But who cares. What the Swiss did could never be done in this country. Period. If we did what the Swiss did, we would have a war with all impacted groups including doctors, hospitals, insurance/drug companies, congress, and many others. We could potentially paralyze our healthcare delivery system. We have a much more complicated and larger healthcare system than the Swiss (their population is less than 8M people).
But don’t dispair. We can do this – we can reform healthcare if we want to do it. Keep reminding your representatives you want reform. I had two callers on my show Thursday (Sirius/XM Doctor Radio), both hard working and both unable to get health insurance they could afford. That is not acceptable anymore. No insurance, pre-existing conditions, and they cannot get primary care. When they get sick, it’s going to costs us as a society even MORE money to take care of them in the hospital/have them collecting disability (which actually is what happens, they stop working and collect state aid when they get sick). It really makes no sense to tell these two callers from yesterday to move to Switzerland. They, like I do, love this country.