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Throughout history, all but the most modern and progressive societies have seen a distinct privatization of insurance businesses. In the modern political climate, with changing industries and with many models going in state-run directions, the old model of private insurance is coming into question.

The most noteworthy industry that is being subjected to scrutiny is the health insurance industry. With the American health care system in obvious disarray and the relative success of social health systems abroad, the privatization of insurance business for health care has had criticism in the media. Documentaries on the success of social health care (most noteworthy is “SiCKO” by Michael Moore) as well as countless editorials and articles have brought the push for a public option into the mainstream consciousness. The arguments fall into a few distinct categories and tones; some argue morally (claiming that every individual has a fundamental human right to health care), some empirically (claiming that the measurable success of social health system serves as evidence to its superiority over the market model) and some economically (health care is a unique industry that seems to underperform when profit incentives are introduced). All of these arguments are very compelling, and have demonstrated themselves through public opinion; according to the Huffington Post, 77 percent of Americans currently favor the idea of having a public option.

There are, however, a number of counter-arguments from the right. Many of these are cultural, invoking America’s anti-authoritarian culture, and frequently take the form of punditry and opinionation against social programs. Some are economic, claiming that the American lifestyle (worse diet, more driving, availability of guns) makes our people inherently more costly to insure. Many on this side argue that the causes of the failure of the American health system are due to not to an inherent flaw in the free market, but in particular problems in the American structure. These include over-regulation, a lack of competition, and issues relating to the existing socialization of our health care model.

While this has been a hotly contested topic, privatization of insurance business in other sectors remains largely favored by most members of either side. Auto, life, homeowners, and business insurance remain favored as American institutions that we would like to keep.

This Business article was written by Mark Karavan on 12/8/2009