Look for inspiration from Taiwan's health care system

By Suzanne Hagan, O.D.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Letters, Dec. 16, 2016

I don’t know what was said between Donald Trump and the head of the Taiwanese government, President Tsai Ing-wen. But since this is the season for wishing, my hope is that they discussed how medical care is delivered and paid for in our two countries.

If this was the topic of discussion, Trump was likely shocked to find out that a Harvard health economics professor designed Taiwan’s system, which is based on our Medicare program for senior citizens, with one exception: Taiwan’s program covers everyone. It is paid for by taxes and some government supplements, and has given them a system that covers 99 percent of their population. Since it is based on our traditional Medicare system, which has a very low administrative overhead and no profit motive, it can be administered quite efficiently.

This stands in stark contrast to medical care in the U.S., which, with the exception of traditional Medicare, is administered very inefficiently and expensively by for-profit insurance companies.

If Trump and the Congress want to repeal and replace the so-called Affordable Care Act, they need look no further than our own Medicare system. Expand it to cover everyone, improve it to get rid of co-pays, deductibles and lifetime limits, and the result would be a real gift for all Americans.

Suzanne Hagan resides in Ballwin.