Krauthammer on health care, trains, Mideast

By Susan Taylor Martin
St. Petersburg Times
February 20, 2011

Susan Martin: Besides being a commentator, you are a medical doctor who criticized health care reform as a “2,000-page bill that will generate tens of thousands of pages of regulations.” Isn’t that a great argument for the simplicity of Canadian-style universal health care?

Charles Krauthammer: It is. But it seems to me there are two choices. We have the best medical care in world but it is the most expensive and we waste a lot. What you need to do is reduce the complexity and inefficiency. If we can’t get it right, we’re eventually going to a single-payer system. At least it doesn’t have this incredible, absurd complexity of ObamaCare. It’s the worst of the worst. It has the complexity of our (present) system and doesn’t give the universal coverage of single payer.


By Don McCanne, MD

Charles Krauthammer may be a conservative columnist, but he is very bright, having been awarded a Pulitzer Prize, and, as a Harvard-trained physician, he can speak knowledgeably about our health care system. His conclusions? Our health care system is the most expensive and wastes a lot due to its complexity and inefficiency, while Obamacare has brought us this incredible, absurd, worst-of-the-worst complexity which would not only be reduced by single payer, but single payer would also provide us with universal coverage.

We hear it over and over again from informed individuals: Since costs are out of control and too many individuals will remain uninsured or under-insured, a single payer system may be inevitable. But there has been a shift. We used to hear this from informed liberals, but now we hear it primarily from informed conservatives (with a few notable exceptions such as Bernie Sanders).

It’s not that we don’t understand the efficiency and effectiveness of single payer; we clearly do. The opposition has been primarily from those who, on an ideological basis, oppose any role of government in health care, other than as a safety net for the indigent. But even their icon of liberty, Friedrich Hayek, stated in his classic, The Road to Serfdom, “Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.”

The logic for single payer is there, and there is no longer any reason to perpetuate the ideological divide. The conservatives need to revisit Friedrich Hayek, and the liberals need to review again the tenets of social justice, perhaps beginning with Article 25 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Once we get our respective camps in order, we should find that we have a common meeting ground.

“The Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek:

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights”

Re-posted with permission from