Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The National Insurance Lottery

In the past, I have expressed reservations about a nationalized health care scheme. It is unfair to label the Canadian and Western European health care systems as disastrous just as it is absurd to say they are unmitigated successes. Fact is, like almost all large government programs, they giveth and they taketh away, solving some, rarely all, of the problems they hope to while at the same time creating new ones. Among the citizens of nations that employ these large scale health care initiatives, one is likely to find plenty of cheerleaders, plenty of critics and, most of all, plenty who are both, recognizing the system's virtues as well as its warts.

President Obama's tentative health care proposal represents a hybrid of the current system and a national one and is therefore unlikely to please hard-line conservatives or die-hard socialists. This is just as well, as these two groups make a point not to be pleased most of the time. The President's idea, sound on the face of it but probably not as straightforward as it seems, is to leave what's right about the system alone while building new programs to repair what's busted. Well, okay. I do not profess any expertise on this topic, but I do have thoughts on how to raise money for it.

There is some logic in a tax increase on unhealthy foods, but I have another idea: there should be a National Insurance Lottery. For, say, two dollars a ticket, purchasers could win a shot at the monthly grand prize, one million dollars and free health care for life. Impractical, you say? I respectfully disagree. If only one in ten Americans purchased only one ticket every week--again, one out of ten and only a single ticket--it would generate about a quarter billion dollars every month, not enough to pay for the program, but a handsome sum of money just the same. And the best part is, it's all voluntary.

Of course, there might be complaints that such a system encourages gambling. But that ship sailed a long time ago. State lotteries around the country already fund dozens of important initiatives and, in the words of the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, it's too late to turn back now.