Thursday, October 08, 2009

Taking the Highway

The current state of affairs in American health care

Imagine for a moment that once a month you needed to drive 100 miles to the City to take your 3 year old daughter to see a medical specialist. There's an excellent interstate connecting your town to the City. It's six lanes wide, limited access, with smooth pavement. Government funds built it with your road taxes. But you're not allowed to use it. Instead, every time you make the trip, you have to take an old dirt road, filled with ruts, sometimes impassable after it rains so that you can't get there at all. Why can't you use it? Because the government decrees that once you are 65 years old, you can use the interstate; until then, you have to find your own way. You can't even pay a toll to use the road you desperately need to take.

Crazy, huh? Well, no crazier than our current debate over providing affordable health care to those under 65. Once Americans reach that magic number, they can ride the smooth road of Medicare, paid for by payroll taxes on wage earners, most of whom are under 65. But until they reach that age, they've got to find their own way- or perhaps not be able to make the trip at all if they are too poor to pay a doctor or to afford decent insurance.

The obvious solution is to allow everyone under 65 to buy into Medicare- to pay a toll to use the service. Congress: are you listening?


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