Friday, March 17, 2006

Krugman the Divine

Paul Krugman never seems to tire of using his NYT pulpit to endorse bad policy. Apparently, Krugman does not like the fact that I can choose to schedule an MRI on Monday morning if I should twist my knee on the court this weekend or that my old man makes annual visits to see an internist for a colonoscopy. Paul calls this “Premium Medicine” and believes that such practices will ultimately debilitate the American healthcare system (e.g., public-financed health care). I admit - he is correct in one sense. As technology advances, and undoubtedly becomes more and more expensive, the public-assistance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid will crumble under their own weight. As the baby-boomers hit senior-status, we cannot economically sustain the current system (even without GW’s new prescription med boondoggle). So, Krugman’s suggestion is state-enforced, ergo: poltically-determined, rationing. Yea, you heard me. Nothing less than Soviet-style (British/Canadian/Swedish/Austrialian) choice-limitations. “So, you have a few new moles on your back and want to see a dermatologist? - - “Sorry, the Bureau of Health does not think it is prudent or necessary at this time - - the guidelines explicitly state…” Marvelous. “Oh, you have been experiencing pro-longed and severe headaches? Sorry, you’ll have to wait in line at CT-Mart – it should only take 4 -6 weeks and we’ll get you right in…” Get the point?

I prefer Arnold Kling’s suggestion:

The opposite approach is to have consumers bear more of the cost of health care decisions, with a safety net consisting of long-term catastrophic insurance with very high deductibles. This would put an unfamiliar burden on Americans to assess the costs and benefits of our specialist visits, MRI exams, and so on. No doubt, some of us would make mistakes. But these would be our individual responsibility, not a collective crisis.
How novel. The United States has the best health care in world – for those who can afford it. That is a sad reality. But, what is the alternative?? Brit-care? Canada-care? I know it sounds cold-hearted – in fact, I think some ice just dripped from nose. So it goes. Facts are facts. When you are talking about scarce resources, all that “equality” means is that we will all, equally, have sub-standard healthcare. Well, all of us except for the political elites like Krugman and the congressmen who vote for such measures. As usual, some animals are more equal than others