Thursday, September 10, 2009What Happens After Health Care Reform?
Let's start with a few assumptions first: I'm going to be assuming that in the near-ish future, we'll be passing some sort of major health care reform, and one which will enable essentially all Americans to secure coverage. My hope, of course, is that a solid public option will be included, mostly because to my mind that will supply us with (eventually) a straight road to single-payer universal health care -- but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Let's just assume for the sake of discussion that as of January 1, 2010, everybody has health insurance. What happens next?
The first thing that comes to mind is a massive run on the health care industry. Will 44 million uninsured people, and god knows how many tens of millions of under-insured people, all start going to the doctor at once? How many bad backs and ignored lumps and painful wisdom teeth and problematic gallbladders (at least one, I can tell you) are out there waiting for this thing to happen? Would any plan, no matter how well thought-through, inevitably look like a massive clusterfuck for the first five years as hordes of neglected people hit the clinics all at once, along with all the bills and costs they bring with them?
On the other hand, with the economy in the state its in, surely having a major industry compelled to grow by 10-15% in a few years to meet the extra demand would be an enormous stimulus in itself. And, unlike the war, this one might be a stimulus that draws wealth back into the national economy rather than hemorrhaging money into parts unknown. And if the population gets healthier, productivity would likely increase, bringing the GDP and per capita income up with it, right?
And then there's the possibility of a renaissance in entrepreneurship. All those people who stay in unproductive/hated/dead-end jobs for the health insurance might finally be free to strike out independently and start new businesses. Or those who simply want to move to other careers might find the confidence to take the risk. Universal health care could spark a massive reshuffling of the economy as well as an expansion.
That's what I'm hoping for anyway, apart from the chance to finally see a doctor again. What do you think? |