I think there should be universal coverage – clearly, other industrialized countries are managing to produce healthcare outcomes that are at least as good as those produced in the US at much lower costs. And it could happen here too. In recent decades the smallest increases in real healthcare costs have come under Clinton and Carter, the two presidents who actually talked about “socializing” medicine and took baby steps in that direction. (I’m going to try to have another post in the next week or two on healthcare costs as a percentage of GDP.)
But honestly, it seems to me that requiring Americans to have health insurance is a distant second best to single payer. There are many obvious problems with mandatory health insurance, but I was thinking of another, less obvious one. In 2006, there were over 51.1 million international visitors. Would tourists be required to have insurance and turned away from hospitals if they didn’t? What about people here for a year? Do you require evidence of insurance before you let them into the country and how do you verify the card they gave you was actually issued by a health insurance company in the Congo or Nepal?