Battlepanda: Krugman on Universal Healthcare


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

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Krugman on Universal Healthcare

Paul Krugman's columns for the New York Times often feels too cramped for me, as if he's just got enough room to expound his views but not quite enough to back them up. But I suppose that's the nature of op-eds. Anyhow, his most recent column on Universal Healthcare cleverly wraps up his pro-single-payer message with a gentle poke at why many people are so resistant to it in the face of mounting evidence that, in healthcare at least, America is definitely not numba one. I should have blogged on it yesterday, but I was too busy informing you on the physics of cowtipping.
The funny thing is that the solution - national health insurance, available to everyone - is obvious. But to see the obvious we'll have to overcome pride - the unwarranted belief that America has nothing to learn from other countries - and prejudice - the equally unwarranted belief, driven by ideology, that private insurance is more efficient than public insurance.
Very well said. There's certainly a hint of desperate defensiveness in supporters of the healthcare status quo. It's evident in the way they inevitably resort, halfway through the conversation, to the anecdote about their friend's cousin who lived in Canada who had a (insert malfunctioning doohickey) who came all the way to the States to have the operation done because IT'S BETTER HERE. SO THERE.

I was also interested to read this passage below because I am Taiwanese and was just recently in Taiwan.
Taiwan, which moved 10 years ago from a U.S.-style system to a Canadian-style single-payer system, offers an object lesson in the economic advantages of universal coverage. In 1995 less than 60 percent of Taiwan's residents had health insurance; by 2001 the number was 97 percent. Yet... this huge expansion in coverage came virtually free: it led to little if any increase in overall health care spending beyond normal growth due to rising population and incomes.
People gripe endlessly about their gubmint healthcare in Taiwan. The latest round of grousing concerned a change that will make patients pay cold and flu treatments out of pocket. You can bet they aren't happy about that. Yet if you ask them if they would prefer doing away with Nationalized healthcare, they tend to look at you in a puzzled manner, as if you've just uttered a complete non-sequitor. Then they'd go straight back to where they left off before they were so irrelevantly interrupted.