Making health care more like public education

Imagine taking all the money a state spends on Medicare and Medicaid and spreading it out to provide basic health insurance to all the residents in the state? Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, architect of the Oregon Health Plan, wants to see his home state take such an approach.

He likens his approach to public education, in which all children 5 to 18 are entitled to a pubilcly financed eduction. We believe public education is a public good that benefits not just inidivuals by society as a whole – no one is left out.

Kitzhaber believe the same should be true for health care and health insurance – everyone get a basic benefit. Individuals can always purchase more (just like they do in attending private schools and private universities), but this approach creates a baseline of services and coverage rather than the implicit “rationing” of coverage we have today.

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