Sep 17, 2011

For everything else, there is Mastercard

"There have long been some very strange contradictions. The first is the notion that we need to control healthcare costs so they stop strangling the private sector and racking up massive debt in the public. The second is that the private sector is much more efficient than the public, as it fosters competition, and that any attempt to restrict treatments or make cost-benefit analyses in healthcare is a form of Nazi eugenics. Even a simple measure that would cut healthcare costs drastically - counseling Medicare patients on power-of-attorney issues if they are incapacitated - is demonized as "death panels"- Andrew Sullivan
The argument between left and right over healthcare is, it seems to me, essentially an argument about something else: the value of money. If money is not just a means of buying things but the ultimate measure of an individual's worth, then yes, a private system makes sense. The rich get better care than the poor and that's not unfair because the rich are rich for a reason, and that reason goes to the heart of what makes a human life a worthwhile thing. If on the other hand, you believe that there are other ways of measuring human worth besides money, then a public, or state-sponsored system is better. The rich do not get better healthcare than the poor but are treated equally because their economic stature is secondary to other factors — such as their right to exist in the first place. It comes down to whether equality trumps economics, like that weaselly pivot in the Mastercard ad. "Some things money can buy. For everything else there is Mastercard."

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