A Facebook friend posted the link to this article, and because my friend leans leftward, and the piece is in the Atlantic, and ran six pages, and is entitled “How American Health Care Killed My Father” (here we go with a diatribe about the evils of health care being a commodity not a right, I thought) I almost didn’t read it. After I began reading, and discovered the author, David Goldhill, was a Democrat, I almost stopped. I’m really glad I didn’t.
I quote extensively from it in my New Mexico Independent column, but the whole thing really is worth a read. It elaborates lucidly and persuasively on his point that
Insurance is probably the most complex, costly, and distortional method of financing any activity; that’s why it is otherwise used to fund only rare, unexpected, and large costs. Imagine sending your weekly grocery bill to an insurance clerk for review, and having the grocer reimbursed by the insurer to whom you’ve paid your share. An expensive and wasteful absurdity, no?
Is this really a big problem for our health-care system? Well, for every two doctors in the U.S., there is now one health-insurance employee—more than 470,000 in total. In 2006, it cost almost $500 per person just to administer health insurance. Much of this enormous cost would simply disappear if we paid routine and predictable health-care expenditures the way we pay for everything else—by ourselves.
His solution is not just a libertarian “pay for it yourselves, guys, tough luck if you can’t” approach, and does include a safety so that the destitute do not fall through the cracks. As I wrote at NMI,
Despite what you might think, I am not opposed to this. Our tax dollars already pay for the health care of the destitute. I am all in favor of a system that would require fewer tax dollars to achieve the same — or in all likelihood far better — results.
Nobody — not even Republicans — wants poor people dropping dead in the streets because they can’t pay a doctor. Okay, maybe some Libertarians do. But I’m not a Libertarian. I’m not opposed to all taxatation and all government. But I am opposed to the disastrously misguided attempt by Congress to “reform” our system of paying for health care. If that bill, or some slightly modified facsimile, passes, our health care system is going to get worse, not better.
Don’t take my word for it. Take Democrat David Goldhill’s.
Or you can admit Goldhill is mostly right, but advocate the passage of an asinine bill anyway, as Matthew Yglesias does with tortuous…what? You can’t call it logic, even tortuous logic:
Defeat of the current legislative effort will demoralize proponents of health reform, teach politicians that any talk of modifying Medicare is politically toxic, and basically result in another 10-15 years of the status quo followed by some kind of budget crisis.
Passing the kind of ideas that are currently on the table would still leave us with a system with a lot of problems. But it would ameliorate several of those problems, and solve a few. It would also, I think, teach politicians the lesson that it’s possible to change the health care system. And that might lead to more and better reforms down the road.
My head spins at the irrationality. The bill will not fix the underlying problems anyway, but we need to pass it so that those who want change won’t be demoralized, and legislators can be taught the lesson tha it’s possible to change the health care system. Um, they’re legislators. They make laws. Laws that change things. They know that already, and don’t need to be taught this obvious fact by the passage of a stupid and pointless law.
I thought people who went to Harvard were suppsed to be smart. Matthew Yglesias went there, and so he can impress people by dropping the H-bomb at cocktail parties. But if his brand of deluded irrationality is what Harvard is producing these days, I think I’ll save my money and send my kids to UNM instead.
Not that my family will necessarily have a choice, mind you, since by the time I’m old enough to have chronic health problems, there won’t be any money left for Medicare, and our children’s college fund will have been sucked dry by the maladies of our old age.