Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Healthcare quotes of the day

Because so many young leftists do not seem to know their own history, they are doomed to repeat it. Literally. They make arguments that were common in socialist circles a century and a half ago--for the popular version, try Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. Those arguments utterly failed to rescue other nationalized markets.--Megan McArdle

Of course some of the people covered by the [healthcare] mandate would otherwise end up showing up at emergency rooms. Treating them that way would get tacked on to my medical bills, one way or another. With a mandate they are no longer my financial headache. With this new change, who's better off? Me. Who's worse off? The previously uninsured poor person. You might say: "We are covering more people, at a lower price, than we had thought possible." That sounds like a kind of triumph. But if you cut through to the actual analysis, your paternalism has to be a lot stronger than your egalitarianism for you to support this kind of measure.--Tyler Cowen

Look at that real-life example of Congress's inability to run its own cafeteria. List for us all the specific examples of "government failure" that contributed to and caused this inability -- you know, like in an exam question. Then tell us how and why these very examples of "government failure" won't apply to the government's management of national health care to create the exact same screw-ups on a trillion-dollar rather than cafeteria scale. Be specific.--Jim Glass

Both the private health insurance industry and the music industry are operating business models that to me appear to be unsustainable and anachronistic. The music industry developed in a world of vinyl records. Our health insurance industry and Medicare developed in an environment in which most major diseases were untreatable and the most exotic diagnostic tool was the X-ray. Now, we do 50 million CT scans and 25 million MRIs per year. Now, people with cancer or heart disease expect to survive. As weekend athletes, we expect our knees, shoulders, and hips to be reconstructed by the same technologies that keep Tiger and A-Rod playing. I do not think we know for sure what a sustainable music industry will look like ten years from now. Similarly, I do not think we know what a sustainable health insurance industry will look like ten years from now. The one thing I can predict is that because government will be less involved with the music industry, over the next ten years the music industry will evolve more rapidly than health insurance. We claim to want reform, but in fact we are terrified of change.--Arnold Kling

What America is best at is delivering a lot of complicated care in extremis, and "quality of life" treatments. What European countries are best at is delivering a lot of ordinary care for the sorts of things that afflict people from 0-50, which is why most of the Europhile journalists writing about Europe genuinely have very good experiences to report. I'd rather be here to have a hip replacement, but I might rather be in the Netherlands to have a baby.--Megan McArdle

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