POLICY: Unrealistic, unfair mercatilism in health care.

I like Don Johnson’s blog Businessword but sadly when you really push him, as I’ve done in his comments over the last couple of years, he either won’t answer or his answers reveal a political philosophy that is downright mean. So in his criticism of Krugman’s analysis on his blog and in comments at THCB here, Don essentially says that if you’re poor or sick in America, well that’s just tough titties. And, as a by product, it’s OK for the insurance market to screw over those who really need individual insurance because, well, because it’s a "market". Same way it’s OK for Enron to defraud the California rate payer, or same way it’s OK for Healthsouth to defraud its shareholders. After all they’re operating in "markets" too.  But Don misses the wider point. Because of the way the US system is set up  — because we’re a richer country than any in Europe, and because the majority of people can afford to pay way too much for our health care —  we systematically overpay for things that no rational market would value. That does not help our economy, it hurts it as most health care spending is non-productive to the overall economy.

The other point that pro-unrestrained booty capitalists in health care, or those Krugman was criticizing, go on about is the huge waiting lists in Canada and the UK.  Well as I mentioned in the UK the wealthy can trade up with their own money while the less well-off get a decent standard of care. Meanwhile single payer advocate Don McCanne found this just excellent chart from Stats  Canada which shows that median waiting times for non-emergency surgeries in Canada  are just over 4 weeks! I’m more than prepared to wait 4 weeks for non-emergency surgery if it means that poor people wont be crushed by their medical bills and can get access to basic health care. (For far more details on this see my "Oh Canada" piece).  And anyone who doesn’t think that’s a fair equation is just mean in my viewpoint. Not to mention that such a system would cost me as a tax payer and a premium payer less money! Money I could spend on other, more productive things, like Frappuchinos.

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