I suspect I agree with Bob Herbert more than any other mainstream print columnist I read, but I disagree with his assessment that the now likely health care reform will be a bad thing.
First Herbert’s description of probable health care reform from today’s column:
“If the oldest and sickest are on Medicare, and the poorest are on Medicaid, and the young and the healthy are required to purchase private insurance without the option of a competing government-run plan — well, that’s reform the insurance companies can believe in.”
But doesn’t that description accomplish one of the two goals of health care reform: to cover more people? Who really cares who is covering whom, as long as everyone is covered with a decent set of health care benefits? The fact that insurance companies will make profits may matter on other non-health care related issues, but on the issue of coverage, it does not. Most health care insurance profits are regulated already in one way or another. I’m therefore not opposed to the solution that Herbert describes.
Of course, there is still the other objective of reducing costs. Universal coverage, technology fixes and new regulations, all in proposed health care reform, will take care of some part of the funding problem. But the U.S. won’t really be able to cut health care costs until we as a nation live a healthier lifestyle. Again, that has nothing to do with insurance reform.
FYI, Herbert’s comments on drug manufacturers in the same column are on point.