Which is fine, if I were talking about Health Care. I just mean in general. They are both, more or less businesses. A government just has more means to assure that their business interests thrive.Not exactly, FLY. In one sense you're right, since the 1980s public sectors in most Western countries have taken steps to operate in a more "businesslike" fashion in an effort to achieve a greater degree of efficiency (eg: New Public Management in Thatcher's UK, Osborne and Gaebler in the USA); essentially the whole "doing more with less" thing. With that said however, there are fundamental differences between what is expected from a public organizations as opposed to a private one. The mandate and goals of a public organization are more varied, complex, and at times contradictory, while private organizations are chiefly responsibility to its shareholders.
You're right that both require a degree of financial health, but how that financial health is assessed very much varies from public to private. Furthermore, and specifically related to your statement, a public organization can and does engage in activities where no clear profit is generated, activties that private company would enter into or would do so in a much different manner. So to say that public and private organizations are more or less businesses really ignores how different they are and the complexity of it all.
So when there is debate about something like health care, what the debate is really about is what is the best model for service delivery. And "best" is defined by how views about the market and the state are valued, a private model provides a degree of care relative to what the user can pay, while a public system assures a good baseline level for all. What's lost with the public system is market efficiency, but what's gained is greater equity, therefore there is a crucial difference between the private and public.
Great post. I think the key is profit. In my opinion, healthcare is a right and should not be a for profit enterprise. This will obviously be a very simplistic analysis but I like to think of it like this (These are "back of the napkin" calculations at best):
US healthcare costs: 2.5 trillion
Standard business profit: ca. 20%
percent of cost which is profit: $500 million
number of people covered: 250 million
number of people which could be covered with the profit removed: 300 million (roughly 50 million more)