Johnny Munkhammar, a European free market advocate, argues in the Rocky today, in an op-ed column not available on line, that the Dutch model for universal health care is one for the U.S. to follow. Basically, he is arguing that universal health care is good, but that private insurers are better than a single payer system.
In the Netherlands, every Dutch citizen is required to have basic health insurance coverage for medical treatments, long-term care and dental and maternity care. They choose from fourteen private insurers. Supplemental vision and dental care is available and about 90% of the population has it. There is a fine on those who don't get covered equal to about 130% of the cost of getting coverage. There are subsidies for those who can't afford care based on income that two-thirds of people are eligible to receive. Rating based on age, sex or risk of illness is prohibited. There is a 7.2% salary deduction up to $3,300 to fund an insurance fund that equalizes risk.
In short, the Dutch plan looks rather similar to plans proposed by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the campaign, although, of course, neither plan is identical. The Dutch plan is closer to Clinton's than Obama's, because Clinton's plan had a mandate to buy health insurance that Obama and McCain's plans both lack. But, no one in the U.S. debate is proposing mandatory long-term care or dental care plans.
Before the current Dutch health care regime was in place, about 70% of the Dutch (those with incomes under $49,000 a year) had the equivalent of a U.S. Medicare style system, financed with an 8.2% payroll tax. The reforms have purportedly helped keep down health care costs which are much lower in the Netherlands than they are in the U.S.