Battlepanda: Libertarians for Socialize healthcare???


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Libertarians for Socialize healthcare???

Matt Welch thinks the French health care system basically whups the ass of what we've got in the U.S. He even questions some of the underlying assumptions of the debate, i.e., the system that is best for rich people must be the best system. Yet he works at Reason, that libertarian rag?

"Wait a minute wait a minute," one guy said. "If you were sick -- I mean, really sick -- where would you rather be? France or the U.S.?"

"Um, France," we both said.

Various sputtering ensued. What about the terrible waiting lists? (There really aren't any.) The shoddy quality? (It's actually quite good.) Finally, to deflect the conversation away, I said "Look, if we made twice as much money, we'd probably prefer American health care for a severe crisis. But we don't, so we don't."

Not to be too much of a classist here, but it struck me then that part of the failure to communicate is a logical consequence of the expectation of wealth. Which is to say, of course
the health care is better for people of means, so therefore of course it's better. Expanding beyond health care, this is actually a theme you can see every day, if you look for it -- rich or at least well-off people telling the po' folk how they should behave, and/or how they should interpret the difficult choices they make.

So, what does Matt suggest we do here? Despite admitting that the French system is superior, he doesn't think we should just copy them . Too easy. Much more fun to tinker with this train-wreck of a health system we've got in this country. His suggestions are in regular font while my comments are in italics:

1) Decoupling health insurance from employment.
Amen, brother. Hobbling American business with backbreaking healthcare bills is not the best way forwards with this globalization thing happening.

2) Creating a guvmint-backed catastrophic insurance of last resort for people who can't get it elsewhere. Emphasis on catastrophic. Anyone who could wouldn't use it, but the losers would have a place to go.
Again, good thinking. Except, how would you make sure "anyone who could wouldn't use it?"

3) Make health insurance mandatory, like car insurance.
I couldn't disagree more. Insurance adds a layer of opacity, introducing perverse incentives both on the side of the consumers and the insurers. In fact, I'd go in the opposite direction -- make it illegal for doctors to charge individual payers more than insurance companies. Encouraging a la carte medical treatment will make people think more about how much care they really need, and also brings more competition which in turn will cause prices on procedures to come down.

4) Repeal Bush's Medicare/drug benefit deal, just because.
Well, duh!

5) Do a bunch of that other stuff that needs to be done, but that I don't understand ... reasonable tort reform, removal of onerous regulations, whatever.
I thought this sort of thing is the bread-and-butter issue for libertarians.

6) Do some kind of crazy drastic overhaul/slashing of the FDA, so that it doesn't take 9 years to get a drug to market.
Hmm. I have to think about this one