universal health care/SAVE--DON'T ASSIGN

Universal health care -- sounds good, doesn't it? Especially the way some contenders for the U.S. presidency are touting it.

But, the truth is, the difference between universal coverage and access to medical care is HUGE.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times last summer:

  • Nearly 900,000 Brits are waiting for admission to hospitals, and, each year, shortages force the cancellation of more than 50,000 operations.
  • In Sweden, the wait for heart surgery can be as long as 24 weeks; for hip replacement, you might wait more than a year, no matter how much pain you're in.
  • A Canadian chief justice wrote in 2005 that "access to a waiting list is not access to health care."


Even with all its problems, health coverage in England, Sweden and Canada is costing people in those countries a lot in terms of their annual taxes.

It's true, too many Americans are without health insurance. But I think the solution lies in making reforms -- like deregulating the insurance markets, expanding health savings accounts and creating a health insurance deduction.

We're used to quick solutions in this country. We need to be careful with this one.