Consider the problems besetting the Veterans Affairs system, which fixes prices for all medicines. Because the government refuses to cover certain newer medications, veterans can't access about 1 in 5 of the most common medicines. Or consider the United Kingdom, where the single payer National Health Service is known to ration treatment.
When it comes to health insurance available through Obamacare, the only thing that seems to be "universal" about it is disappointment. Patients don't like it. Payers don't like it. The uninsured young population doesn't like it — or want it. It's fair to say that the foundational design flaws are becoming evident. Until exchange plans are made legitimately attractive, healthy people will continue to avoid them, and insurers will follow UnitedHealth's lead and stop offering plans that only lose them money.
But rather than face the music, ACA supporters are playing the blame game — while those who support a more complete government takeover of health care are waiting in the wings.
Commentary by Peter J. Pitts, a former FDA associate commissioner, who is currently president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, a nonprofit that gets funding from the pharmaceutical industry.