Conrad Meier, Rest in Peace

Published May 1, 2005

Conrad Meier, one of the nation’s leading advocates of market-based reform of health care, passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005. He was 69 years old.

Conrad was a Heartland Senior Fellow and founding editor of Health Care News, The Heartland Institute’s monthly newspaper devoted to consumer-driven health care. His involvement with Heartland long pre-dated the launch of Health Care News in March 2001, as he wrote policy studies and many shorter commentaries and essays over the years.

Conrad was a big man who liked to embrace others, funny, an extrovert, and smart. Though not a native of Missouri he sounded like he was, with that slightly southern aw-shucks kind of accent that said “I’m not here to impress or convert you, just to say a few things that I’ve come to know over the years.” You couldn’t help but trust and admire the fellow, even if you disagreed with him.

He was my friend first and a mentor on health care issues second for many years. His was a strong voice raised in opposition to politicians and special interest groups he felt were destroying much of what was good about America’s health care system. While most people who share his concerns are content to complain and do little, he devoted countless hours to battling for change — hours he often said he would have preferred to spend with his wife Zoe, his children, and his grandkids. Speaking out against injustices and political corruption was a duty he felt compelled to discharge, not a hobby, sport, or job.

I think he would say, in retrospect, that he lived a balanced life, devoting the time necessary to make a real difference in the world with his pen (and then his keyboard) while never forgetting that his family and friends come first. We can lament that he didn’t live to enjoy a “real” retirement, but I don’t think he intended to ever stop fighting for the ideas he felt were important. Though he stopped editing Health Care News last year, he remained prolific, writing op-eds and letters every few days.

Diane and I first met Conrad around 15 years ago. At the time, he worked for an insurance broker in Wisconsin, and he came down to visit this new think tank he had heard about. We were friends instantly. He subsequently started his own firm in Illinois, then moved to Missouri for his extended and productive semi-retirement. All the while he donated countless hours to Heartland, only a tiny percent of them ever paid. He was among the most generous men I have ever known.

Sympathy cards can be sent to Conrad’s widow, Zoe Smith, at 309 Vieux Carre Court, Columbia, Missouri 65203.

A Partial Conrad Meier Bibliography

Conrad Meier wrote or edited hundreds of articles as managing editor of Health Care News from its founding in March 2001 until he stepped down in October 2004 to become a Heartland Senior Fellow. The last article he wrote as managing editor was this one:

“A Time to Do and a Time to Be Done,” Health Care News, October 2004,

A Health Care News column that is especially poignant to read now is:

“Apologies to My Grandchildren,” Health Care News, August 2003,

During 2004, Conrad wrote a series of eight feature stories for Health Care News on “How Eight States Destroyed Their Individual Insurance Markets.” The collection will soon be published as a book by the Council for Affordable Health Insurance. Here is a link to the original series:

Between December 2001 and May 2002, Conrad wrote a four-part series for Health Care News addressing the failures of Britain’s single-payer health care system. The collection is available under the title “Britain’s Deadly Mistake” on Heartland’s Web site:

Following are some of the other studies and articles Conrad wrote for The Heartland Institute. A complete list with links can be found by going to Heartland’s Web site at and searching the site for his name.

“Extending Affordable Health Insurance to the Uninsurable,” Heartland Policy Study #91 (1999),

“Old Geezers Are Worth Listening To,” The Heartlander, August 2000,

“How to Implement Kassebaum-Kennedy,” Heartland Policy Study #78 (1997),

“Al Gore Wants a Single-Payer Nation,” Heartland Perspective, November 2002,

“If It Itches, Scratch It!” Intellectual Ammunition, February/March 1998,

“Snake Oil and More Snake Oil,” Broker News, March 2001,