The FAA model brings up an interesting example in support of government run health care.
There is a definite problem with the current healthcare system. If you have private insurance and get become very sick, the insurance company has an strong motivation to find a way to cancel your policy. Although this makes sense for the companies bottom line, it is not exactly what I would call insurance. Most of us would like to imagine that “insurance” means: any means of guaranteeing against loss or harm. But this goes away when it is a for profit industry that does not want to pay for loss or harm. And quite frankly, if I was an invester in an insurance company, I wouldn’t want them to cut into their profit to pay for your illness either.
However, the idea of the government providing for our health care sends chills up the spines of most conservatives and many liberals. Do we really trust the government with our lives? I argue that you already do… every time you board an airplane in the United States you are trusting the FAA.
Here is one way to model the field of medicine after the FAA and it just might work:
ATC controllers are highly paid and they make more money at larger airports (so rewarded for skill and hard work), have very demanding requirements, little room for error and are government employees. Maybe that is not such a bad model for doctors. Rather than pay them through hospitals that are billing insurance companies, why not have well compensated doctors (perhaps in a similar organizational structure as military doctors) that are paid a wage from the public coffers. Just like air traffic controllers who work at an airport but not for the airport (paid by FAA), doctors could work at hospitals but not for the hospital.
Obviously, we still want to attract the best and brightest to be doctors. Medical school is tough. It will stay tough. Right now it is expensive and tough and that means only people with wealthy families can become doctors (not always the brightest) or people willing to incur massive debt. This requires very high pay later to cover loans. Why not have medical education free and based solely on merit. If you are good enough to get in and finish the program, you are in the club. If not, see you later (and you owe for the ammount spent on you). No amount of money will get you in, rich boy. That makes it more like the Naval Academy which generally produces good officers.
Hospitals and clinics:
Offer free treatment to any citizen (taxpayer) and get reimbursed from the government for treatment. This is still competitive because people have a choice where they go to see the doctor. Provide a crappy facility and you get less patients at your door = less money. Patients that are not citizens can also be seen but will be billed at the same rate that the government would have paid. The non-citizen can utilize a private health insurance provider if they choose or can pay out of pocket.
How about combining health insurance with life and disability, so the company has a financial incentive to keep you alive and healthy?