Friday, July 31, 2009

Paul Krugman is nuts

When a guy that smart says things so stupid, there's only one explanation: insanity. In his latest piece he flips the script and claims that government is preventing the private market from destroying health care. From the horse's mouth:
They don’t understand, in particular, that getting the government involved in health care wouldn’t be a radical step: the government is already deeply involved, even in private insurance. And that government involvement is the only reason our system works at all.
Here's an obvious question, which came first, a screwed up system or government involvement? I don't know, but when has government done anything well? To Mr. Krugman everything the government does is de facto good and everything the private sector does is bad. The madness continues:
Yet private markets for health insurance, left to their own devices, work very badly: insurers deny as many claims as possible, and they also try to avoid covering people who are likely to need care. Horror stories are legion: the insurance company that refused to pay for urgently needed cancer surgery because of questions about the patient’s acne treatment; the healthy young woman denied coverage because she briefly saw a psychologist after breaking up with her boyfriend.
Deny as many claims as possible? Is their any truth to this argument, no. Just his ludicrous assertion. If insurance companies are denying everybody and their mother then why do people get any insurance in the first place? If I know I am not going to get covered in my time of need then why would I or anyone else purchase it? You wouldn't. The fact that people purchase it means they must get paid out. It is simply disingenuous to claim that insurers make their money by stiffing their customers. It is apparent that this is the view he takes for all profit making enterprises. Not that they exchange value for value, but one party robs the other party.

Horror stories are legion? Yet another fatuous claim with no evidence to support it. He discredits this later with:
Still, most Americans do have health insurance, and are reasonably satisfied with it. How is that possible, when insurance markets work so badly? The answer is government intervention.
How can those same Americans who have such bad experiences be satisfied?

Avoid covering people who are likely to need care? Well, duh! Here's some reality, people who are likely to need care shouldn't get insurance. Insurance is used to mitigate rare catastrophic events. Not likely events. If we want to subsidize the care of people who already have conditions, then do it! Don't blame insurance companies for this. Either Mr. Krugman fundamentally doesn't understand the concept of insurance or he is pushing his agenda (I vote for the latter). He can read up on insurance here. Wait, I am receiving some news folks, apparently he does understand the concept of insurance.
The key thing you need to know about health care is that it depends crucially on insurance. You don’t know when or whether you’ll need treatment — but if you do, treatment can be extremely expensive, well beyond what most people can pay out of pocket. Triple coronary bypasses, not routine doctor’s visits, are where the real money is, so insurance is essential.
You don't know when you'll need treatment? Then why lambaste insurance companies for refusing to insure people who do know that they'll need treatment?

Here's another gem by Mr. Krugman:
Still, most Americans under 65 do have some form of private insurance. The vast majority, however, don’t buy it directly: they get it through their employers. There’s a big tax advantage to doing it that way, since employer contributions to health care aren’t considered taxable income. But to get that tax advantage employers have to follow a number of rules; roughly speaking, they can’t discriminate based on pre-existing medical conditions or restrict benefits to highly paid employees.
He says this (I assume with a straight face, his mind is obviously in knots) as if employer paid health insurance was by design. Uh, no. It was created as a work around to wage controls imposed by...government! The employer system we have today is one of the reasons our system is such a mess and he has the audacity to claim this as a good thing. I forgot, government inadvertently did it, so it must have been divine intervention.

Restrict benefits to highly paid employees. Stop the train folks. How many Nobel's does it take not to be an idiot? Apparently more than one. Regardless of who gets health care from the employer, there is only one person who pays for it? If you guessed the employee go to the head of the class. Any benefit the company gives you is less money they would have given you. There is absolutely no reason for a company to discriminate any employee because the company doesn't pay for the coverage in the first place. You do. This whole argument by Mr. Krugman is a result of his psychologically entrenched class warfare argument that has no basis in reality.

Here's the last bit of insanity (before my head explodes):
Right-wing opponents of reform would have you believe that President Obama is a wild-eyed socialist, attacking the free market. But unregulated markets don’t work for health care — never have, never will.
Now Mr. Obama basically proposes using additional regulation and subsidies to make decent insurance available to all of us. That’s not radical; it’s as American as, well, Medicare.
Why don't free markets work in health care? Because people want services that they don't have to pay for. That doesn't work in free markets. It doesn't work in socialist utopias. It doesn't even work in the Communist Republic of Obama. There is no free lunch!

Oh, by the way. A program that has been around for 40 years isn't exactly American like apple pie and baseball.


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