Battlepanda: The Taiwanese Model


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

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Taiwanese Model

Bush is keeping himself busy lecturing China to look to Taiwan as an inspiration. But he doesn't seem to realize that the island nation might in turn have a thing or two to teach us. Like how to run a proper healthcare system.

I've already touched on this issue before when I commented on the Paul Krugman column in which he cites Taiwan's National Health Insurance as a success story. Now Tyler Cowen has a rather fence-sitting post in which he extensively quotes a rather alarmist article on the future of the NIH, while at the same time acknowledging that the Taiwanese are enjoying universal coverage at bargain prices. Of course he concludes that whether or not the NIH is working over there, there is no way it can work over here.
My worry is that U.S. national health insurance will be used to win votes, and not to correct micro-imperfections in the insurance market. Let's say that you are a left-wing blogger, and, for purposes of argument, that your entire critique of the Bush Administration is correct. Remember, this guy was re-elected. You are relying on these very same voters, and this very same "policy correction mechanism" to make politicians accountable for a well-functioning health care system. You should hear my in-laws or my mother complain about the Medicare prescription drug bill, and that was supposed to help them. Scary, no?
Erm...that's a new one. Yeah, sure nationalized healthcare is good policy and might work elsewhere, but the American people are especially feeble-minded. How else can you explain Bush's re-election? (Well, actually I suppose Tyler's got a point there...) As for Tyler's concern over his Mother in Law's complaint about the Medicare Prescription drug bill, that's just disingenuousness. Tyler know what a piece-of-crap trojan horse big-pharma boondoggle that bill is. I know he knows because he kinda-sorta linked approvingly to the Krugman column that pointed this out. Why pretend now to be shocked when people don't love it?

By doing a minimum amount of digging on google, I see that the per capita GDP in Taiwan is $25,300, in contrast to our per capita GDP of $40,100. And of that much-lower GDP, they only spend about 6% of it on healthcare in total, as opposed to 15% for the United States. Yet they manage to cover the primary healthcare of all Taiwanese including dental, while about 45 million U.S. citizens remain uninsured.

Maybe we should take a break on tut-tutting over how much black families spend on shoes and concentrate on the foolish waste we're indulging in as a society that is orders of magnitude greater instead.