SPECIAL IDEAS REPORT

Idea of the DayMonday, July 6, 2009

Facebook Your Way to Universal Healthcare

Ed Yourdon/Flickr

Why couldn't there be a third way to solve the health-care dilemma in this country? Perhaps an alternative option to the current two-choice debate between government-run and privately managed? How about something more like a workers union, a professional association, or an NGO? Hey, you of the graduating generation looking for that next big idea, couldn't one of you round up all your Facebook buddies, come up with a good name for your generation, domain-name it, and file the necessary papers to become a nonprofit?

Now that college is over, you may have noticed that many of you and your pals are suddenly uninsured. According to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, young adults are disproportionately represented among people who lack health insurance, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the 45 million uninsured people younger than 65, even though they comprise just 15 percent of the population.

Once you organize and take a head count, go price group health-care coverage. And after you calculate the rate at which the larger the group the cheaper the insurance, go out and gather up everyone else you can--through your massive social networks--who might be interested in the cheapest health insurance. It will only be a matter of time before your organization is so large that you can become your own underwriters. Then you can really throw some weight around.

And if you can remember that you started this venture not to make a buck but to obtain affordable health insurance--if you can stay on the nonprofit side of things and avoid antitrust laws--you might just have the motivation and support that corporations and the government are lacking to provide universal health-care coverage.

So, maybe instead of trying to invent the next big thing in intellectual property that, in the end, is really only property--why not go out and save the world, or at least save peoples' lives? (Remember, if you don't have your health, you don't have anything.) Maybe some of the people you save will go out and save the world themselves.

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