The New York Times wrote a long editorial about health care costs over the weekend which drove me to a simple conclusion:
There's no bumper sticker solution.
That is, there is no single concept which solves the problem, no ideology which makes it all go away. The Times blames Americans' wealth for much of the cost problem, but also notes those without wealth are often going without basic care.
Their proposed solutions are a grab-bag of offerings from the left-and-right which (like virtually all politicians) dismisses the idea of a single payer system out of hand.
Even the idea of covering everyone by mandating the purchase of insurance seems too far ahead of the public for these candidates.
An NPR report recently noted that former Gov. Mitt Romney is running away from what he passed in Massachusetts, mandating health insurance purchases. Even Sen. Hillary Clinton is running away from the "mandate" word.
What this points to is a big debate in 2009 but no real solution. Democrats like Sen. Joe Biden remain afraid of the "Harry and Louise" ads which sank the 1993 Clinton health plan, and no one running today offers the level of detail on the question she did then, or even the level of detail offered by the Times.
Harry and Louise are becoming the political equivalent of Thelma and Louise. The latter didn't turn out so well.
It is possible more detail will emerge once the parties' candidates emerge, in a few months, and both sides coalesce around their principles and principals.
But so far I not only haven't seen a bumper sticker solution, I haven't even seen a band-aid.
Hope you don't need an emergency room for at least the next two years, unless you're like the guy in the classic ad above, from E*Trade.