"I know there's a big difference between setting a goal and being able to get all the players at the table to agree to it and get it enacted," she said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I think I know what not to do as well as having picked up some very important experience in the last 14 years about how to proceed."
This week, rival John Edwards offered his plan for universal health care that calls for a tax increase to ensure health care coverage for all and a requirement that businesses provide insurance. The tax increase would pay for the plan's cost of up to $120 billion a year.
In 1993, as first lady, Clinton led her husband's calamitous attempt to overhaul the nation's health care system. The failure of that effort helped Republicans win control of both the Senate and House the following year.
Clinton said in the interview that she is in no rush to offer her plan.
"The president can propose, but the Congress has to dispose, and if we don't have a consensus in the country that our present system is no longer adequate to provide quality affordable coverage to every American and increase the competitiveness of our economy and reduce the burden on individuals, then we can't get any plan sent forward," she said.
There are different ways to achieve the goals of universal coverage, higher quality and lower costs, she said, "But the first step is getting a majority of our citizens convinced it has to be done," she said.
Clinton spoke on the eve of her first trip to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate. She will spend the weekend holding town hall forums and attending small house parties.
At issue in the state is the status of New Hampshire as the first primary state. Clinton said New Hampshire deserves to hold its primary whenever it chooses, but the Democratic front-runner wouldn't say whether she agrees with allowing another state to vote first.
"I believe New Hampshire deserves to be able to put its primary wherever it chooses and I will be there to compete whenever it happens," she said.