There is a lot of discussion about our nation's "need" for a nationalized medical system. Now I certainly disagree with that idea and seeing the failures of Canada's and Britain's systems I feel justified in being very skeptical of socialized medicine in America.
However we do need to make some changes.
Part of the problem is that when it's through the government people tend to believe it's free (when fact it isn't) so people go hog-wild and get everything they can (which also explains why insurance premiums are beyond the reach of so many people.). You could control that through rationing but that would not work either as one serious and legitimate problem could cost more than dozens of small bogus problems.
Part of what I think we need to do is break the medical requirements down into several subsections and deal with each one separately.
1) Routine Medical Care: Physicals, minor illnesses, vaccinations, and over the counter drugs. These people should pay out of their own pockets, so far as they are able. The best way to deal with this might be a tax credit for all expenditures over a certain percentage of your income (say over half a percent or one percent of your annual income.). Doctors doing charity work and free clinics could also help.
2) Emergencies. This should be handled as an insurance with state or private charity helping those who cannot afford it.
3) Chronic Problems and 4) Catastrophic Problems. These are the two budget killers. Most people don't have catastrophic problems so again it can be handled through insurances.
Chronic problems is what I have no idea about. Some are relatively inexpensive but there are diseases whose medical bill can be many, many dollars a day for life. We could limit the profits of drug companies but all that would accomplish is squanching research as the profit motive seems to be the best motivator for new drugs. This is a hard one and I don't see a solution to it.
If we let the government simply take over, the results would be that people would use more and more of it (cuz it's free!) while the costs would go higher and higher (as the bureaucrats rake in their cut) but because Doctors and Nurses would make less and less, fewer and fewer would enter those professions resulting in the same mess they have in Canada and Britain where people die waiting for a doctor for routine medical care.
We need an answer and the first step is to somehow contain costs.
UPDATE: 10/28 Check out the roaring success of Britain's nationalized health
Michael Moore!? Where are you!? Comments please?