Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Universal Health Insurance -- Finally!

The Massachusetts legislature has just mandated universal health insurance. What is amazing is that they did it with only the barest of employer mandates, and with overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans -- including the conservative Republican governor who is running for President:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/04/AR2006040401937.html

I am sure that the free marketers will object, but frankly, I can't see what there is to object to. Most states require car insurance -- it is a matter of personal responsibility. People without health insurance DO get care -- just substandard care, subsidized by those of us whose employers pay our premiums. It won't solve all of America's health care problems, but it is a step in the right direction.

15 Comments:

Anonymous malachai said...

Agreed, 100%.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Apparently, this has some stuff the free-marketers like as well... I wish I could see more details about it, though.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the free marketers object to is the fact that the math doesn't work.

See the op-ed page in the journal today (04/07/06), if you want to understand the objections rather than dismiss them.

- Moishe Potemkin

7:06 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'What the free marketers object to is the fact that the math doesn't work.'


The math in the current system does work?


'See the op-ed page in the journal today (04/07/06), if you want to understand the objections rather than dismiss them.'

Sorry, but WSJ charges for this piece. Could you enlighten us as to the objections?

In general, most of the objections over the past 35 years to universal health coverage have been letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. That is why the Democrats would not pass the Nixon and Ford plans. It is possible to come up with a zillion objections to any plan. But almost any change that resulted in universal coverage would be an improvement over the current system. You couldn't design a worse health care financing system if you tried to do so deliberately.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In general, most of the objections over the past 35 years to universal health coverage have been letting the perfect be the enemy of the good."

That's not accurate. The problem is that people want a warm and fuzzy solution that sounds nice, regardless of the fact that nice and fuzzy solutions don't necessarily work. It's like objecting to chemotherapy because the poor patient already has cancer, why should we make him nauseous as well.

Health care is expensive because at certain prices, demand outstrips supply. This solution merely increases demand, which will, given enough time, just make things worse. Again, it sounds all humanitarian (and believe me, I'm not defending the current situation at all), but it will fail. It's quite regrettable, but still inevitable.

- Moishe Potemkin

7:25 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'I'm not defending the current situation at all'

I'd love to hear your ideas regarding how to create a better system.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'd love to hear your ideas regarding how to create a better system."

1) More doctors. (Greater supply.)

2) More non-doctors doing the non-doctor stuff doctors do. (Reduced demand.)

3) Greater first-party exposure to medical expenses. (Significantly reduced demand.)

4) Medical Malpractice reform. (Greater supply.)

- Moishe Potemkin

12:50 PM  
Anonymous malachai said...

How to reduce health care costs-

Put a cap on executive pay and compensation for health care companies, some of them have made hundreds of millions of dollars a year! How many people can you insure for a hundred million dollars a year?

Let's put price caps on drugs, like every modern, democratic country does, stop letting the drug companies rip us off.

Instead of giving the drug companies huge subsidies to develop drugs that they will overcharge us for after getting government assistance to develop, let the CDC develop drugs, they will do it much cheaper, they do not pay the heads of the CDC tens of millions of dollars a year like they pay the business crooks who run the drug companies.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't dispute Malachi's sincerity, but all of his ideas fit right into the mold of making the problem worse. There exist both consistency and predictability to human behaviour (not necessarily individuals, but certainly for larger populations), and we already know, with considerable accuracy, how certain policies play out.

For example, when you "put price caps on drugs, like every modern, democratic country does," you make it less worthwhile for companies to produce drugs, and they will innovate less, and produce and improve fewer drugs, and more people will die than necessary. All in the name of "improved health care."

Yes, that's certainly selfish of them, but unless someone has devised a means of actually changing human nature, it is still exactly what will happen.

Perhaps it would be nicer if this was not how people behave. But when we make policies that ignore how people DO behave, we get unpleasant unexpected outcomes. So the choice boils down to shooting for the best possible outcome, or tilting at ideological windmills, practical ramifications be damned.

Personally, I would rather see more people get better health care, so I'm an advocate of the free market.

Have a happy Passover.

- Moishe Potemkin

7:40 AM  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

I doubt anyone is still following the thread, but Joel Shurkin's blog provides some support for Charlie's view.

8:17 AM  
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