No sooner did we finally get ourselves a little health-care reform than we were inundated with proposals for reforming the health-care reform; and, doubtless, were those proposals to be implemented, we should soon see proposals for reforming the reform of the reform. Yet it need not be such a complicated matter. A little story from the Magazine of Wit and American Harmonist (1821) illustrates how simple health-care reform might be if it were carried out on the Qing Dynasty model:
KIEN LONG, EMPEROR OF CHINA.
Sir George Staunton used to relate a characteristic anecdote of this emperor. He inquired of Sir George the manner in which physicians were paid in England. When his majesty was made to comprehend what the practice was, he exclaimed, “Can any man in England afford to be ill? Now I will inform you,” said he, “how I deal with my physicians. I have four, to whom the care of my health is committed, and a certain weekly salary allowed to them: but the moment I am ill, that salary is stopped till I am well again. I need not inform you, that my illness is never of any long continuance!”