Sunday, December 03, 2006


Health Care Economics

Just thinking about my own experiences with our dysfunctional health-care system: how can our system be efficient?

It makes no sense to have individuals purchase health insurance as there are no economies of scale that would make something as expensive as health care, which we rightly entrust to highly trained professionals who provide hopefully well tested treatments, affordable. But having your employer provide health care, while providing the necessary economies of scale, causes problems because people change jobs (or even classifications within a job -- as a grad student, just the transition between health plans going from being fellow to a graduate assistant and back again resulted in all sorts of un-necessary duplications of labor and hence costs when such transitions happened whilst I was actively receiving medical care).

It seems to me that it would simply make economic sense to have nationalized health care, nu?

The most interesting thing about the health care debate is how successful the corporate media have been in creating an impression in the American mind of scorn and derision for any of the benefits of democratic socialism enjoyed by citizens in France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Great Britain and Canada. In France people work a 40 hour week and take summer vacations - yuck, how unAmerican.

(The corporate media also have sold Americans on the idea that we have a stake in saving both the peasants and the urban poor in Latin America from any overthrow of their neo-feudal governments.)
Pardon my nit-pickiness, but the media ain't acting the way it is with respect to the health care debate because it's a "corporate media" but because it's an "aristocratic media". Many corporations would love to see nationalized health care as it would make health care costs an externality for which they wouldn't have to pay. However, there is a tradition in this country, dating back to our revolution, of a desire to bring back pre-feudal manorialism in which the Lord had fewer obligations to his serfs, i.e. more "liberty" to be free of any obligations. If you look particularly at some of the Southern "patriots" of 200 years ago to achieve this liberty from obligations to their serfs/slaves, not anything resembling a liberal democracy, is why they wanted to break from England. And their heirs, as you well know from your comments regarding the aristocratic media, not only populate too much of our political elites but also too many of our media elites.

To them, nationalized health care sounds too much like one of those "Euro-weenie" obligations from which their Patrick-Henry spiritual forebearers fought to the revolution to obtain the liberty to abstain and, considering they have good health care plans, sounds too much like an un-necessary government boondoggle.

Now with the attitude toward Latin America, it's both the corporate attitude and the aristocratic attitude, so I guess in that case, we get a double shot o' media bias.
Point well taken. Sometimes I refer to the intergenerational wealth transfer crowd because I think Americans have a tendency to tune out a reference to our wealthy as aristocrats. That said, though I failed to find a good link, Paul Krugman has written about the reflexive but dumb postion taken by GM in the late 90s opposing national health care. GM was a big political player in that debate.
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