So in my morning reading I came across Paul Krugman’s latest column on healthcare. For those of you unfamiliar with him, Krugman is an economics professor at Princeton, a Nobel Prize winner for economics (they’ll give those things to anyone these days), and a man who knows less than nothing about economics….or politics…or doing anything but running his mouth about things he knows nothing about. Krugman’s writing in the NY Times varies between laughable and infuriatingly stupid. Today’s article, “Health Care Realities” comes somewhere between the two. Let me sum it up for you: (1) People don’t want government run health care because they’re stupid (2) all good health care comes from the government. No really he makes that second point:
“And that government involvement is the only reason our system works at all.”
Now we all know that point one is the backbone to all liberal arguments. All liberal arguments tend to go something like “People don’t want government run (fill in the blank) because they don’t know what’s good for them, be we the government know what’s best for you because we’re smarter than you.” Now while I may never argue that the American public are a particularly bright bunch (after all Democrats currently control Congress and the White House…and what gets elected into the Republican party isn’t much better) but I will never believe that the government is smarter than the public–sleazier and more cunning certainly, but not smarter–and it’s certainly not smarter than the Invisible Hand of the Free Market.
But let’s get to his second point, that it is only the government that provides good health care. He, for instance offers the following list of problems with private health care:
“Yet private markets for health insurance, left to their own devices, work very badly: insurers deny as many claims as possible, and they also try to avoid covering people who are likely to need care. Horror stories are legion: the insurance company that refused to pay for urgently needed cancer surgery because of questions about the patient’s acne treatment; the healthy young woman denied coverage because she briefly saw a psychologist after breaking up with her boyfriend.”
All these stories are likely true. But if we’re going to compare anecdotal horror stories, then may I remind you of the all of the horror stories that come from government run health care. I bet if I could out Krugman’s stories 10 to 1 in number and depravity. His argument is basically that the frying pan is uncomfortable…let’s try jumping into the fire.
Krugman goes on to say that insurance companies spend a lot of money to prevent people who want private health insurance (at their own expense) from getting onto the plans. He forg0t to explain that this is because a lot of people only try to sign up for health care when they need it and then try to stop paying when they don’t. Not would it only be bad business to let people do that, but that would mean that all of their costs for health care would be borne by the people who have been paying for years…but as that so closely resembles government run health care, I can see why Krugman’s rather limited view has no problem with it.
He then goes onto to say while most people love their health care it’s because of the government. He points to Medicare which covers people 65 and older…he says they all love it (Not true) and that it runs efficiently (it is another socialist plan where you pay for someone else, and it’s going to go bankrupt soon). Then he goes onto claim that everyone is happy with their health insurance because the insurance they get through is through their employer; and the reason that insurance working is because government regulates it to keep it working. And believe it or not, Krugman’s right in that aspect. Government regulation in this case works. Just as a little more regulation would prevent most of those horror stories he listed. But is he arguing for more regulation, no he’s arguing for intervention, the creation of a whole new government system.
Let’s look at some acts of government intervention (that thing that government isn’t supposed to do because it never works out) instead of simple regulation (you know that thing government is supposed to do, but it does in the right way).
Goverenment Intervention: The Creation of the HMO…you know where most of the horror stories and fraud come from, fraud which drives up medical costs. Yeah why should we have just regulated existing insurance when we could create huge bloated government envisioned companies run by government cronies.
Government Intervention: The FDA: ever wonder why drugs cost so much here in America, because the government process for approving drugs (viewed as insane by most of the industrialized world, which is why most drugs and treatments are available years earlier in the rest of the world) doubles, triples, quadruples the cost of research, added to patent laws that are ignorantly designed to let the makers of drugs not hold on to them, drug companies are forced to either charge huge prices or go out of business.
Government Intervention: Medicare and Medicaid: Billions upon Billions in fraud. That and service is crappy. Any senior with money has private insurance because they know they’d be crazy to have Medicare.
Lack of Government Regulation: Tort Reform: Another reason why medical costs are so high is that doctors have to pay ludicrous malpractice insurance fees because current Tort law allows any lunatic to sue for anything.
I’m sure I could go on. Some government regulation may insure your employer health care, but that doesn’t mean going from regulation to intervention is a good idea. To go back to my previous metaphor, it isn’t that we should jump out of the frying pan into the fire, it’s that we should turn the fire off. Get the government out of healthcare, not into it.
Of course, Paul Krugman will never understand that. Because he doesn’t understand the way the American system works.