Tying health care to work, not private insurance, is what sets the U.S. apart.
Democrats’ Medicare for All debate has turned into a referendum on the existence of private health insurance. But simply having private health insurance isn’t the weird thing about the U.S. system — the weird thing is how we go about it.
The big picture: Health care in the U.S. is yoked to employment — it’s a form of compensation for workers, and then we use a smattering of public programs to fill in the gaps. Other rich countries, though, treat health care like a social program and organize their systems accordingly. And their way is cheaper and more effective.
About half of all Americans have health insurance through an employer, making it the single biggest source of coverage in the country.
- If you look at other rich countries comparable to the U.S., you’ll find plenty of roles for private insurance. But you won’t find such a close tie between work and health care very often.
- Most of those countries’ health care systems have better results than we do, for a lot less money. They’re also able to cover almost their entire populations…..