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Rx: Profiting from Sickness

OPB | Aug. 6, 2009 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:56 p.m.

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We’ve done several shows in the last few weeks on the healthcare system, and one issue that keeps poking up is the question of profit. Our commenter Albrecht explored this most fully when he asked:

Is it moral to profit hugely from the illnesses and medical care needs of our fellow citizens?… Is the free market, or the profit motive, in fact always the best option? Or are there undertakings in the life of  our communities and our nations that serve us better when done in common, that is, socially? We undertake fire protection, policing, and education in common, or socially. Why not health care?

With various health care proposals in Congress, some watchers — and not just the insurance industry — are nervous about a “public option,” and what it might mean for the economy at large. On the other hand, advocates for reform point to profit as one of the main reasons the current health care system is broken, citing rising costs and tens of millions of Americans who are un- or under-insured.

Where do profit and healthcare intersect for you? Do you have insurance through a for-profit company — or a non-profit insurer? Do you go to a doctor-owned clinic, or a public hospital?

Are you a doctor, or a medical or pharmaceutical researcher? What might be lost — and what might be gained — if profit were taken out of the system?

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