Stephen W GordonThe US has spent somewhere around 5 trillion on wars (still going up) to avenge/punish/protect after 4,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11. But some how we don't have any money to help the many times that number who will die from lack of health care. Strange.
John CoffeyI meant to respond a few days ago, because I think that your point is valid. War is a terrible waste of money.
When it comes to war we have sort of a paradox, because I don't think that we should do nothing, but we usually end up doing the wrong thing or too much.
There is also a paradox when it comes to healthcare. The national sentiment right now is that nobody should be without healthcare, which means that some people are going to need public charity. It doesn't necessarily mean that everyone should have their healthcare paid for by the government, but I have read that we are 64% of the way there already, so some might say let's just go to single payer. This is where I think that paradox comes in, because whenever someone else is paying for your services, you are not going to care about either the price or overusing the system. One thing that keeps prices in check is people's willingness to do without when it gets too expensive, but we think that nobody should do without. Ironically, the current supply of healthcare services is not enough to cover everybody.
I am a firm believer that when government funds something it automatically becomes more expensive. Both healthcare and higher education have risen much faster than inflation. It has everything to do with incentive. When people spend their own money, they are much more careful on how they spend it or do without if something is too expensive.
I would not necessarily be against single payer if there were incentives to control costs. People need to pay for a portion of their healthcare. One possibility is have single payer cover disasters and people have to pay for routine expenses.
My prefered solution is medical savings accounts, which would be subsidized for those who can't afford them. Hypothetically, both you and your employer contribute 5% (or some other percentage) of your income pre-tax dollars into an account that can only be used for medical expenses or to buy health insurance. You have the option to contribute more and the money can accumulate till retirement. If you have an excess amount in the account at retirement then you could take some of it as taxable income. With this system, current retirees would still fall under medicare, but future retirees would be required to use the medical savings accounts first. Also, people should be allowed to invest the account money in something that will get a decent return.