Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Should We Model Health Care After the US Postal Service?


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I came across a rather unique article on US News & World Report's Flow Chart blog last week arguing the US Postal System might be a good model for health care reform.

There are probably some reasons why this might not work, but I think it is good food for thought.

The Case for Postal-Style Health Care
The Postal Service may not seem all that efficient, but it does one important thing pretty well: Transport a letter between any two addresses in the United States for less than a dollar, usually in three days or less. It's such a mundane task that we take it for granted. But if a private-sector firm wanted to compete across-the-board with the Postal Service, it would have to build a humongous infrastructure able to reach every household in America, six days a week. No company wants to do that.

In the mail business, the Postal Service is the deliverer of last resort, required by law to provide a "fundamental service" to the American people "at fair and reasonable rates." But our healthcare system doesn't have a last-resort provider offering basic service at reasonable rates. As a nation, we support universal mail delivery but not universal healthcare.

Rick Newman makes an excellent point that it really wouldn't be so bad to have a health care system that operates as inefficiently as we perceive the postal service to operate. The postal service is reliable, affordable and a perfectly acceptable last resort when it's not possible or desirable to use a private carrier.

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.