Universal Healthcare as Pro-Business
David Frum is the author of five books, including two New York Times bestsellers: THE RIGHT MAN: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush (2003), and co-author with Richard Perle of AN END TO EVIL: What's Next in the War on Terror (2004).
Frum is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and writes a daily column for National Review Online. He contributes frequently to the editorial pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as the Great Britain's Daily Telegraph and Canada's National Post. He appears regularly on CNN, Fox News, and the BBC. In 2001-2002, David Frum served as a speechwriter and special assistant to President George W. Bush.
Question: Can providing universal healthcare be seen as a pro-business move?
David Frum: Many businesses would absolutely be delighted, overjoyed, if the government would take their health care responsibilities off their books. Many others would suffer. It depends on the composition of your work force. It depends on how high the taxes are going to be.
But the problem of providing universal care is, I would say, problem number 2 when we talk about the health care crisis in the United States. Problem number 1 is slowing the rate of health care inflation.
Just between 2000 and 2006, a health insurance policy for a family of four doubled in cost; it went from $6,000 to more than $12,000. Well, if it had gone from $6,000 to $8,000, the whole problem of the uninsured would be a lot worse, when you've doubled the cost of things and the number of people who cannot afford to pay that costs rises very rapidly.
If we could slow the rate at which these costs are rising, we would also slow the rate at which people can't afford these costs is rising. I believe as well that the health care problem and the problem of opportunity is very connected in the United States with the problem of migration; that when you, as the United States has done since 1970, import 35 million or actually closer to 40 million people, almost all of them are very poor with very low levels of educations and productivity, and as employers we don't think it's worthwhile to provide health care insurance to them, it's not a surprise that the proportion of the people in your society without health insurance should rise so rapidly.
Recorded on: May 5 2008
David Frum: First, we have to slow healthcare inflation.