Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Netherlands improves healthcare by privatizing it

Clark recently read a story in The Wall Street Journal -- a paper he loves so much that his executive producer Christa calls it his "girlfriend" -- that reinforced a longstanding belief he's had about healthcare. About 2 years ago, the Netherlands privatized its healthcare system. Their government has decreed that everyone has to buy health insurance themselves and that employers are not allowed to provide it. The insurance companies must offer it to everyone regardless of their medical history. Those who can't afford the premiums receive subsidies to help out. So now the Dutch -- who are some of the world's tallest and healthiest people -- have a flourishing private healthcare market. So far the results have been very positive. Healthcare costs have declined significantly since the switch. When you put the consumer in charge, it changes the equation. Clark acknowledges that this experiment is still in its earliest days and that some problems may emerge down the road. But the insurers in our country are constantly alienating the consumer and pushing us closer to socialized medicine, which Clark thinks will be a terrible thing if we ever get there. Will the Dutch model ever gain traction here? Republican presidential hopeful/former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has already gotten heat over his adoption of some principles similar to what they're doing in the Netherlands. Only time will tell…

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