The United States has serious and worsening problems in the delivery and financing of health. The debate about reform has inspired many schemes that are persuasive in their presentation, but they are unrealistic: some cannot be enacted by Congress, others would not improve existing arrangements, most are imaginary inventions with uncertain outcomes. The most politically prudent and the most effective course is to emulate the methods used successfully and available for full analysis in other developed countries. America created its successful social security system in this fashion, and statutory health insurance should be added now. All or most groups would be required to join. Financing would come from social security payroll taxes, supplemented by government subsidies. Basic acute care services would be equally available to all. The existing insurance companies would remain as fiscal intermediaries. Doctors and hospitals would continue to work much as they do now. They would prosper from more utilization, few bad debts, and less administrative trouble. The payment and work of doctors would be governed by collective negotiations between the insurance carriers and the medical associations. The payment and work of hospitals would be governed by a mixture of government regulations and negotiations with the carriers. Costs would be controlled by coordinated decision making by the payers, the providers, and government. The system would not turn over services and financing to government.

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