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Time for a national health insurance program

It’s time for America to get serious about coming up with some sort of national health insurance program.

One need look no further than the news this week that General Motors is shuttering several plants and cutting some 30,000 jobs.

It’s been well-documented that about $1,600 of the price of every car GM produces goes to pay for employee health insurance. Increasingly, car companies are turning to our neighbor to the north to locate new plants and jobs, largely because they do not have to pay healthcare costs. Toronto is the new Detroit.

Resistance to a national health insurance policy largely comes from entrenched interests in the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical lobby and the politicians who are in their hip pocket.

Historically, the argument has been an ideological one, the strongly held belief that the private sector can provide better quality service more efficiently than a government-run one. The facts no longer bear that out.

We pay more for healthcare in this country than any other in the world, yet the quality of care provided to the citizens is not as good or even efficient as those in most industrialized nations that have national health insurance.

Further, saddled with these high costs, U.S. companies are even more inclined to locate manufacturing facilities in other countries, leaving an economy driven by non-tradable domestic services, the mark of a third world country.

We can think of no better free market solution than to help make U.S. industry competitive with those in other countries by adopting a national health insurance program. If we don’t act soon, you can bet there will be more announcements like GM’s in our future.