Houston, we have a problem…
There are many problems with American healthcare well documented in the popular press, but it seems that the main issue is the availability and (if it is available) the high cost of health insurance.
Let me begin by saying that the most common option in American health insurance system tied to employment is very weird. If you have a job that offers a group insurance plan, then you can join regardless of your current health and preexisting conditions. However, if your employer does not offer a group plan, or you’ve been laid off, or you are self-employed, or an entrepreneur, then you have to buy insurance on your own. In that case, you better be in excellent shape, with no preexisting conditions, because if you have health problems, then your premiums are going to be extremely high, or your particular condition is not going to be covered, or you may forget about insurance coverage altogether (if you have something really serious). This makes you think twice before switching jobs, or striking it out on your own.
I think that fixing the American health care system is, perhaps, the key issue for securing America’s economic future. As America cannot compete on wages or low-cost mass manufacturing against new vigorous economies like China or India, it is paramount to maintain America’s true competitive advantage. It is the entrepreneurial spirit and the propensity to efficiently innovate that put America in the forefront of the world’s economic development. The current system of health insurance locks people into jobs with particular insurance plans, thus inhibiting the entrepreneurial spirit of people trying new ideas and starting new companies. A truly portable health insurance independent of employment would provide the necessary mobility of talent and labor that underpins effective innovation and gives America an edge in global competition.