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Why Universal Health Care Is No Cure-All

Why Universal Health Care Is No Cure-All
Photographer: Philip Laurell/Gallery Stock

There’s good news to report on health care in America. Obamacare has increased coverage by 10 million people, spending growth has dramatically declined, and preventable hospital errors such as drug mistakes fell 17 percent from 2010 to 2013, saving 50,000 lives. In the U.S., at least, it appears possible to increase efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and access all at the same time.

The picture is less positive across much of the developing world. While the call for universal health care in every country is now the official stance of the World Health Organization, attempts to meet that goal have often seen limited returns. The overwhelming focus on quantity of care is ignoring a massive problem with quality and efficiency. Unless that’s addressed, a lot of money will be spent on expanding access—with little impact.