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Friday, October 16, 2009


Republican health care "logic"

Thanks to CNN and MSNBC's obsession with "balloon boy," over lunch I watched a few minutes (no more, I assure you!) of Neil Cavuto interviewing Mike Huckabee. Harry Reid has apparently now said the Democratic health care plan will cost $2 trillion dollars (over 10 years I guess, they rarely include that detail), and of course Huckabee and Cavuto were apoplectic over the "waste" that entailed. Then they turned to the fact that it is claimed that the same plan will save $500 billion in Medicare costs, at which thought Huckabee sputtered about how much health care for seniors would be cut by such cuts. Does it not occur to these people that, if they claim that spending $500 billion less on health care for seniors will result in worse health care, that they also have to claim that spending $2 trillion more on health care for everyone else will result in better health care for them?

If a government health care plan will actually cost $2 trillion over some period of time, there are only three options: 1) The plan is going to pay doctors, hospitals, and drug companies even more money than they are making now. Possible, but highly unlikely. 2) The increased expense will come because the government is so much more inefficient than the "private sector." Conservatives may believe something like this a priori based strictly on "belief," but all data shows that the overhead expenses for government-run health plans like Medicare and the VA are far less than such expenses (which of course include profit) for insurance companies.

Which brings us to 3) There is currently an unmet need, namely, people are going without $2 trillion worth of health care which might actually, you know, save their lives. If I'm right about the 10 years, with the latest figures showing that 47,000 people die each year because of lack of health insurance (and no doubt others suffer but don't die), that would mean 470,000 lives saved for a cost of $2 trillion. $4.3 million/life is expensive, but it's a darn sight better return on investment than the lives being "saved" (minus, of course, the much greater number of lives being lost) by the even more expensive "war on terror."

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