Flip side and flop side of the Health Care Bill
I’ve been reading a few articles about the Health Care Bill lately and wanted to share few details. Below, I’m pasting a few excerpts from and links to a couple of them.
Reforming America’s health-insurance system was never going to be an easy task, given people’s natural aversion to change (not to mention Republicans’ aversion to doing anything that might help Barack Obama)…
The truth is that we could do just fine without them: an insurance system with community rating and universal access has no need of private insurers. In fact, the U.S. already has such a system: it’s known as Medicare. In most areas, it’s true, private companies do a better job of managing costs and providing services than the government does. But not when it comes to health care: over the past decade, Medicare’s spending has risen more slowly than that of private insurers. A single-payer system also has the advantage of spreading risk across the biggest patient pool possible. So if you want to make health insurance available to everyone, regardless of risk, the most sensible solution would be to expand Medicare to everyone. That’s not going to happen. The fear of government-run health care, the power of vested interests, and the difficulty of completely overhauling the system have made the single-payer solution a bridge too far for Washington, and for much of the public as well. (Support for a single-payer system hovers around fifty per cent.) That’s why the current reform plans rely instead on a mishmash of regulations, national exchanges, and subsidies. Instead of replacing private insurance companies, the proposed reforms would, in theory, turn them into something like public utilities. That’s how it works in the Netherlands and Switzerland, with reasonably good results.
And there was also the faith in the grand liberal project. Democrats protected the unemployed starting with the New Deal, then the old, then the poor. Now, thanks to health care reform, millions of working families will go to bed at night knowing that they are not an illness away from financial ruin.
Today, America’s vigor is challenged on two fronts. First, the country is becoming geriatric. Other nations spend 10 percent or so of their G.D.P. on health care. We spend 17 percent and are predicted to soon spend 20 percent and then 25 percent. This legislation was supposed to end that asphyxiating growth, which will crowd out investments in innovation, education and everything else. It will not. With the word security engraved on its heart, the Democratic Party is just not structured to cut spending that would enhance health and safety.
The second biggest threat to America’s vibrancy is the exploding federal debt… The task ahead is to save this country from stagnation and fiscal ruin. We know what it will take. We will have to raise a consumption tax. We will have to preserve benefits for the poor and cut them for the middle and upper classes. We will have to invest more in innovation and human capital.
The Democratic Party, as it revealed of itself over the past year, does not seem to be up to that coming challenge (neither is the Republican Party). This country is in the position of a free-spending family careening toward bankruptcy that at the last moment announced that it was giving a gigantic new gift to charity. You admire the act of generosity, but you wish they had sold a few of the Mercedes to pay for it.
Read more (The Democrats Rejoice): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/23/opinion/23brooks1.html
A much more detailed critique of the bill: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2009/11/some-vaguely-heretical-thoughts-on-health-care-reform.html
Another one dealing with various economic details: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2010/03/obamacare-by-the-numbers-part-1.html