Will America Go the Way of Greece?

How many times have you heard that America is the only industrialized country without a national health care system? Now, just as America seems to be jumping into that pond, another country may be required to jump out.

The country of Greece is so deeply in debt, and has made so many promises to its citizens that it can’t keep, that it needs a massive bailout from other nations and organizations. America is a part of the IMF, European Union and European Central Bank consortium putting up funds to help Greece weather its financial crisis.

In return for this help, Greece must make changes. One of these changes, according to the New York Times, is to “remove the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors” including possibly privatizing its government health care system. Economists say that “liberalizing the health care industry would help bring down prices”¦which are among the highest in Europe.”

So if dismantling the government health care system in Greece would help reduce prices, why is America rushing headlong in the opposite direction? Could it be that cost control isn’t really part of the agenda here? After all, America is not as deeply in debt as Greece. But we’re headed in that direction. Rather than wait until we, too, have to look at privatizing a nationalized health care system, perhaps we shouldn’t nationalize it in the first place.

Steve Buckstein is founder and senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.