Friday, August 27, 2004
Single-payer health insurance: It should come as no surprise that the man who just a couple of weeks ago took umbrage at being called a quasi-socialst comes out today for the government taking over the healthcare industry. Paul Krugman's column today endorses the nationalization of a huge chunk of the American economy.
Does this mean that the American way is wrong, and that we should switch to a Canadian-style single-payer system? Well, yes.
Yeah, when I'm told that I need to have an MRI, I want to wait a year because medicine is rationed.
I loved this line too, no illegal coordination between the Times columnist and the Kerry/Edwards '04 campaign.
A smart economist can come up with theoretical justifications for either argument. The evidence suggests, however, that the Kerry position is much closer to the truth.
Agree with Krugman or you're a liar. Wonderful!
But my favorite passage is this one from Herr Doktorprofessor -- how will Krugman avoid the huge elephant in the living room when it comes to the spiraling cost of healthcare?
The fact is that the mainly private U.S. health care system spends far more than the mainly public health care systems of other advanced countries, but gets worse results. In 2001, we spent $4,887 on health care per capita, compared with $2,792 in Canada and $2,561 in France. Yet the U.S. does worse than either country by any measure of health care success you care to name - life expectancy, infant mortality, whatever. (At its best, U.S. health care is the best in the world. But the ranks of Americans who can't afford the best, and may have no insurance at all, are large and growing.)
And the U.S. system does have very high overhead: private insurers and H.M.O.'s spend much more on administrative expenses, as opposed to actual medical treatment, than public agencies at home or abroad.
High overhead? What could be a big part of that "high overhead"? Could it be -- malpractice insurance costs? Of course countries with socialized medicine have "lower overhead" -- you can't sue the state-employed doctors for millions of dollars for causing cerebral palsy because they weren't quick enough to do a C-section.
Here's a quicker fix: Put caps on the amount of punitive damage awards.
But that's certainly not going to happen with John Edwards as the vice president or Democrats in control of Congress.
Something definitely needs to be done about spiraling health care costs -- but socialized medicine isn't the answer.