Anyone watching the most recent round of Democratic presidential primary debates should recognize that in both the first and second sets of debates, all the candidates worked from the assumption that Americans face a binary choice: government-run health care or private health insurance. Republican responses to the debates made the same assumption.
Big Brother or Big Insurance — love one, hate the other. That’s the anemic range of health care messaging to expect from Democrats and establishment Republicans alike. The problem? Both sides are wrong — myopically, expensively wrong.
Democrats insist that you must love government-run health care and hate private insurance companies. Republicans insist that you must love health care from insurance companies and hate government-run options.
But government-run and private insurer–run health care are both bad options, especially when Democrats and establishment Republicans present them as the only ones. That’s why I choose option three: patient-run health care. So do my patients, and so do countless other patients across the country — not that you’ll hear about them in the debates. Such patients — many of them low-income — buy health care directly from their doctors for pennies on the dollar compared to what Democrats and establishment Republicans would have patients (or taxpayers) pay for insurance.
Instead of patient-run health care, expect to hear more about its opposite: government (single-payer) health insurance. On its face, it sure sounds good: free health care! Who wouldn’t like that?