Saturday, April 23, 2005

Huzzah for Paul Krugman

I've been saying it for ages: as the underinsurance crisis creeps up the socioeconomic ladder, we'll start hearing more and more about it in the cultural preserves of the chattering classes. Sure enough, the New York Times's Paul Krugman is in the middle of a series on the mess of American private health coverage, and he is blatantly about to spring a single-payer endorsement. Here's a chunk of yesterday's excellent column:

Think about how crazy all of this is. At a rough guess, between two million and three million Americans are employed by insurers and health care providers not to deliver health care, but to pass the buck for that care to someone else. And the result of all their exertions is to make the nation poorer and sicker.

Why do we put up with such an expensive, counterproductive health care system? Vested interests play an important role. But we also suffer from ideological blinders: decades of indoctrination in the virtues of market competition and the evils of big government have left many Americans unable to comprehend the idea that sometimes competition is the problem, not the solution.

I may be a tad bilious about how microscopically most Americans care about crises like this until they actually set up camp in the family room, but I guess that's an unfortunate but persistent reality of our society under the current setup. If that's what it takes to get the NYT finally registering the magnitude of the problem, that's how it is. And given the political climate in the States today, Paul Krugman deserves our praise for taking on this issue so forthrightly.

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