You Could Have It So Much Worse

New Daily Beast column from yours truly takes a look at health care in Sweden and Denmark to put the Obama proposals in perspective and remind the interest groups looking to block reform that they’re actually turning down a very generous offer:

Whether reform passes this year or not, the status quo really is untenable. Something will have to change someday. And what Obama and Baucus are proposing is close to the minimum amount of change conceivable. If insurance-industry groups succeed in killing the bill, the lesson will be that appeasement hasn’t worked. And that may mean that next time around, reformers will start thinking big and try to put health care under democratic control and financed on the basis of solidarity. Industry may vehemently oppose even modest reforms, maybe trying to kill it off entirely. That would be an ugly fight that would mean years of delay in providing help to people who urgently need it. But unless insurers can recognize how much the powers that be are bending over backward to be nice to them, it might be the only way forward in the long run.

Here’s my earlier post on health care in Denmark and here’s health care in Sweden. The systems are similar, though I’d say Sweden’s is marginally better. The Swedish government’s English-language description of their system also includes my new favorite health policy catchphrase: “Swedish health and medical care is based on the principles that care should be provided on equal terms and according to need, that is should be under democratic control and financed on the basis of solidarity.”