POLICY: Krugman on why Canadian business likes single payer

Paul Krugman focused on health care in his regular op-ed on Friday in the NY Times. Krugman is what passes for a lefty in this country (i.e. he’s a moderate social democrat) but in this op-ed he points out that in single payer nations like Canada, it’s the business community that is keen to maintain the system because it costs less than a “market”-based system. As he says:

The U.S. system does have very high overhead: private insurers and H.M.O.’s spend much more on administrative expenses, as opposed to actual medical treatment, than public agencies at home or abroad.

Does this mean that the American way is wrong, and that we should switch to a Canadian-style single-payer system? Well, yes. Put it this way: in Canada, respectable business executives are ardent defenders of “socialized medicine.” Two years ago the Conference Board of Canada – a who’s who of the nation’s corporate elite – issued a report urging fellow Canadians to bear in mind not just the “symbolic value” of universal health care, but its “economic contribution to the competitiveness of Canadian businesses.”

Of course, Krugman is told by his economist friends that it’s unrealistic to expect single payer, but he leaves with a barb:

But let’s not ignore the growing evidence that our dysfunctional medical system is bad not just for our health, but for our economy.

Of course, there are plenty of their corporate compatriots on this side of the border who would love to push their obligations for their employee and retirees health care onto the taxpayer too.

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