Monday, July 06, 2009

Economic Reality

That the rest of the world is able to do something that the U.S. can't seems an odd principle for the entrepreneurship advocates to espouse. While holding that regulation destroys innovation, our wingers claim that we are going to give up our advantages by providing health care to everyone. Regulation of our health care system is the danger they predict; freedom to be sick doesn't seem like much of an argument, but it's the best they've got.

Dr. Krugman has already pointed out that this country spent its way into the present crisis with tax breaks for business that did not produce the employment they were claimed to. Today, he provides some specifics of the health plan proposed for the U.S. public.

Let me start by pointing out something serious health economists have known all along: on general principles, universal health insurance should be eminently affordable.

After all, every other advanced country offers universal coverage, while spending much less on health care than we do. For example, the French health care system covers everyone, offers excellent care and costs barely more than half as much per person as our system.

And even if we didn’t have this international evidence to reassure us, a look at the U.S. numbers makes it clear that insuring the uninsured shouldn’t cost all that much, for two reasons.

First, the uninsured are disproportionately young adults, whose medical costs tend to be relatively low. The big spending is mainly on the elderly, who are already covered by Medicare.

Second, even now the uninsured receive a considerable (though inadequate) amount of “uncompensated” care, whose costs are passed on to the rest of the population. So the net cost of giving the uninsured explicit coverage is substantially less than it might seem.

Putting these observations together, what sounds at first like a daunting prospect — extending coverage to most or all of the 45 million people in America without health insurance — should, in the end, add only a few percent to our overall national health bill. And that’s exactly what the budget office found when scoring the HELP proposal.

The wingers appear to have nothing but opposition to public interest as a basis for existence. It's not surprising that their arguments are creative,but lack substance, as they are not the true story.

The right wing is against the left, and that is its attraction. Unreasoning obstruction isn't a tactic, it's the character of the movement. Sadly, there is still a faction of the voting public that identifies with mindless opposition to anything progressive and in the public interest.

Hopefully, the wingnuts can be cured by rational behavior over time.

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