POLICY: Yet another shoddy article on single payer

The major outlets of the SCLM (so called liberal media) tend to give lots of column inches to conservatives like William Safire, Debra Saunders, and now Tucker Carlson on NPR and you don’t see the reciprocal placing of Michael Moore on Fox News or the Wall Street Journal. This week’s wingnut is Jeff Jacoby writing in the Boston Globe about how single payer would suck.  There may be a valid conversation about the merits of single payer, but this ain’t it. If the only people Jacoby can quote in his favor are the CDHP flacks at the NCPA and the appallingly biased Fraser Institute, he really needs to get a real education in this subject before he starts wasting column inches in a great newspaper.

Did he bother talking with anyone who knows something just across the Charles from Boston, like Bob Blendon or Marc Roberts at Harvard, both of whom are able to give an unbiased overview of the issues.  Did he even get America’s leading single payer advocate Steffi Woolhandler to tell her side of the story? It was all a cab ride away.  Even Bill O’Reilly’s had her on.

And he brought out a laundry list of where health care systems abroad are in trouble, and are resorting to rationing. No shit.  I can find him a much much longer list of bad things going on here, but why bother when the Wall Street Journal ran a whole series on rationing in the US in 2003.  Wasn’t Jacoby reading his fellow travelers’ stuff?  He never bothers to mention that the universal health care nations pay far less for their health care and get better population outcomes. Did he even know that?

This is a complex and difficult argument, but any rational analysis (like my rather good one about Canada!) shows that our system has at least as many problems as those abroad, and considerably more than those countries with a sensible public/private mix like France and Germany.

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Van WaldoPeterJoan Recent comment authors
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Van Waldo
Van Waldo

The elephant in the room that is rarely mentioned in the public debate on medical care is that all of us (sadly, including myself) have far too high expectations of medical research and medical care. Because of our collective conceit and arrogance we have deceived ourselves into thinking that if we just throw enough money at medical research and medical care, we can have eternal life and happiness here on earth. Remember the cliché, “if we can put a man on the moon, we can do anything.” Of course, we know that this is absurd when we say it. But… Read more »


I’ll give it a shot Joan, a Canadian living in the U.S. who got double cataract surgery done in Canada for about 25% of the U.S. cost, with no waiting. (paid cash – fought with my insurer for six months to get reimbursment). “…rationing by waiting is pervasive, putting patients at risk and keeping them in pain.” Like the rationing here done by affordability where those people without insurance wait until the last possible minute before finally going to the ER for emergency treatment. Or the uninsured people who can’t afford elective surgery and so go without. ”Lives at Risk,”… Read more »


This would carry a lot more weight with me if you specifically rebutted Jacoby’s points with facts and links of your own, instead of indulging in a lot of name- and place-dropping.