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So what is socialized medicine, anyway? Princeton health economist Uwe Reinhardt unpacks the phrase in a post at the New York Times blog Economix today. He gives these definitions: Socialized medicine: The government owns and operates both the financing of health care and its delivery. Social health insurance: People pool money so that they share the potential costs of medical bills that come up. Their payments (taxes or premiums) are based primarily on their ability to pay rather than how healthy or sick they are. Typically, these systems use some public and some private hospitals for health-care delivery.
So you can’t assume that all social insurance is “socialized medicine,” Reinhardt explains.
Reinhardt says the “purest” form of socialized medicine in the U.S. is the V.A. health system for military veterans. “I find this cognitive dissonance amusing,” he writes. “Indeed, if socialized medicine is so evil, why didn’t Republicans privatize the V.A. health system when they controlled both the White House and Congress during 2001-06?”