One of the sticking points in attempts to form another grand coalition government in Germany is the country’s mixed public-private health insurance system.
The Social Democrats campaigned on merging the two. Their argument is that the one in ten Germans with private insurance (mostly people with yearly incomes over €50,000) get better care: shorter waiting lists, more services. Read more
Crises in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) always provoke the same ideological debate: the right blames “socialized medicine”, the left calls for more money.
Neither side is completely wrong.
The Financial Times argues there are too many administrators and not enough frontline medical staff in English hospitals.
Repeated government reforms have spurred fragmentation and only added more layers of bureaucracy.
But “cuts” (really: restraint in the growth of health spending) haven’t helped, especially when the population is aging and requiring more services. Read more
The other day, I explained that the reason Americans can’t get a European-style health-care system is not opposition from insurance companies but the fears of 155 million Americans who currently get health insurance through their employers. They worry that a single-payer system, like Britain’s, would mean higher taxes and lower-quality care.
Such fears — largely unfounded — would undoubtedly be amplified by drug companies, health providers and insurance companies if the Democrats campaigned for “Medicare for all”.
So instead of having an abstract, and probably pointless, debate about which health-care system is superior, why not look at what advocates of single-payer hope to achieve and see if this can’t be done without eliminating private insurance? Read more
Sixteen Democratic senators, led by the 2016 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, have called for reforms that would make all Americans eligible for public health care.
Such a system — the Americans call it “single-payer” — would be uncontroversial in Europe, where most countries guarantee health care to their citizens.
But it seems impossible to get done in America. Why? Read more
One of the few silver linings to last year’s presidential election in the United States was that candidates from both major parties recognized that opioid addiction should be treated as a public-health, rather than a law-enforcement, problem.
Which makes it all the more disheartening that Donald Trump is taking exactly the wrong approach to this crisis.
Politico reports that the new president believes in a “tough law-and-order approach” to arrest the rise in drug overdose deaths.
142 Americans die from opioid abuse every day. That is more than die in car accidents or from guns.
The crisis is concentrated in postindustrial states like Kentucky and West Virginia: the heart of Trumpland. Read more
Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare have descended into farce.
Politico reports that Senate Republicans don’t even want their latest bill — which would repeal the 2010 health reforms without replacing them — to become law.
“The substance of this is not what’s relevant,” said Bob Corker of Tennessee. “This a pathway to conference. That’s the only purpose in this.”
But there is no guarantee the House of Representatives will agree to a conference, which is not designed to write laws to begin with. It’s a process to iron out differences between similar bills passed by both chambers.
The reason Senate Republicans must resort to this is that they haven’t been able to unify their own behind a health-care bill, let alone attract Democratic support. Read more