Professor Uwe Reinhardt and Karen Ignagni

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Princeton University professor Uwe Reinhardt, one of the nation's leading authorities on healthcare economics, says the healthcare debate all boils down to a single question. "Should the child of a gas station attendant have the same chance of staying healthy or getting cured, if sick, as the child of a corporate executive?" he asks.

Professor Reinhardt says people need to decide whether medical care should be like public education—where every American simply has a right to it—or if it should be treated like a luxury good. Currently, he says healthcare is like fine dining...if you have the money, you get it, and if you don't, you won't.

When hurricanes or other natural disasters hit, Professor Reinhardt says the government steps in to help victims. "That's social insurance," he says. "It's a natural disaster, and I would say if a lady in Mississippi has breast cancer, isn't that a natural disaster, too?"

As Michael points out in Sicko, Americans rely on many socialized services, like the police department, public libraries and the fire department. The U.S. Army even provides socialized medicine for all enlisted men. "I'd like to call it Christianized medicine because this is what Jesus would do, right?" he says. "He wouldn't let the child of a gas station attendant go without."
FROM: Sick in America: It Can Happen to You
Published on January 01, 2006