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Pivotal Power

July 17, 2009
Healthcare is a national security issue in more ways than one

Is pandemic disease a national security threat?

Stephen Walt’s recent post describes one of the connections between healthcare and national security. He argues that our increasingly bleak fiscal situation, combined with the aging of the baby boomer generation, may put more pressure on dollars going to defense. He suggests that actors like the AARP might start to care just how many extra F-22s Congress will insist on purchasing above and beyond what the Pentagon says it wants and needs.

There are at least two other health and national security connections, and I’ve called healthcare a “formestic” issue for this reason. First, pandemic disease, such as influenza, is one of only two outside threats (the other being a nuclear attack by terrorists) that could strike the U.S. at any time and that could potentially kill hundreds of thousands of Americans. It, plainly, is a national security threat. If a pandemic ever really blew up in this country, we would be much better off if everyone had health insurance. Global cooperation and the World Health Organization are critical to protecting us from this threat.

Another linkage has to do with America’s place in the world vis-a-vis rising powers. The fact is that one of the main reasons cited by businesses that decide to offshore jobs to places like China and India is the rising costs of healthcare in this country.

Moreover, an absolutely critical driver of U.S. success — particularly in a globalized economy — is our ability to innovate. I haven’t seen any real statistics, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence out there to suggest that some would-be entrepreneurs opt to stay in corporate jobs because they cant give up their health insurance. We are crazy to hobble ourselves like this.

– Nina Hachigian

Photo courtesy of Flickr user hitthatswitch under a Creative Commons license.




[…] IS national security. Nina Hachigian, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, explains the healthcare-national security connection. Pandemic disease like influenza, which could potentially kill hundreds of thousands of Americans, […]


[…] WorldFocus: Health Care is a national security issue in more ways than one. […]


Everyone ( myself included ) is concerned about the cost of Healthcare.
Could this idea work ?
EVERY CHILD under the age of 17 gets health care.
This would cover about 20 % of the people and with coverage for preventive medication would lower future cost. As the kinks ( an there will be some ) we can increase the age coverage.


It is in the details which will decide if heathcare change is good or bad. If the cost of heathcare continues to increase by 1%-2% above inflation,it won’t matter who runs haalthcare. Only the rich will be able to afford true healthcare.
The reason that companies offshore jobs is not the cost of healthcare but that jobs are cheaper offshore. Innovation works for the simple reason of competition. If a company dosn’t change it goes out of business. Most innovation comes from startups not existing corporations. Existing corporation which succeed in innovation are ones which are willing to spend money on reseach. Education is more important regarding innovation than healthcare. Most companies which are protected from competition do not innonvate.
The danger of national healthcare is that in the long term innovation regarding healthcare will be nonexistent. Imagine going to your moter vehicle bureau for healthcare no matter innovation.
The goal should be to provide quality healthcare at an affordable price. The danger is that there will be a two tier system which provides substandard healthcare for most people while providing quality healthcare for the few. Today we suffer a system which provides no routine healthcare and the use of the ER in the event of a crisis for many people while also providing the best healthcare in the world for the majority of the population. Due to the ever increasing costs of healthcare this system faces a future crisis and meltdown of the system. Something needs to be done. The problem is What? Taking no action is just as bad as taking the wrong action. It is important to remember that no matter what is done there will be people who will suffer harm due to the change. But It is also important to realize that while no program will be perfect, it is possible to provide good and affordable healthcare for the majority of the population. But only if we do the change right!


Health care for everyone is an absolute must for many different reasons. The bottom line being a health population benefits the entire country. Healthy citizens are a huge financial asset for oneself,businesses and government.Everybody wins.

Nina Hachigian is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the co-author of “The Next American Century: How the U.S. Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise.” She has worked on the staff of the National Security Council in the White House and been a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. She specializes in U.S.-China relations and great power relationships, multilateral institutions and U.S. foreign policy.

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