Why Americans fear radical health care reform

Despite faring poorly in metrics that compares the American health care system with other countries, the public may fear the unknown that radical change brings.

Prominent economist Uwe Reinhardt (via The Health Care Blog) provides some insight in a recent interview.

There is little question that the United States provides the best specialist-based care in the world. As Mr. Reinhardt says, “people imagine having the worst illness, and if you are really very sick in the U.S., you generally do have more hope than in any other country if you are very sick, particularly if you are well insured.”

The image of ready access to cutting-edge experimental treatment, MRIs and PET scans on a whim, or the ability to obtain opinions at multiple world-renowned medical institutions, tends to have more resonance than the better access to primary care that other countries provide.

He also skewers the entitlement mentality of Americans, describing them as “people who want the best health care, [but] they don’t want to pay high premiums, don’t want to pay taxes.”

Any radical reform plan will require both limiting the amount of care most well-insured Americans receive, and paying more to cover the uninsured.

Are the American people willing to make those sacrifices necessary to enact meaningful reform?