I have observed before that when people start talking about health care their I.Q. tends to fall about 15 points. This is from Nicholas Kristof, whose New York Times editorials I often agree with. It’s probably unfair to single him out. The same error in reasoning appears in almost every speech on health care given by Barack Obama and by just about everybody else on the political left as well.
This is almost word for word:
|Major Premise:||The United States spends twice as much per person on health care as Canada and most European countries and has worse outcomes.|
|Minor Premise:||Spending twice as much in return for less is bad.|
|Conclusion:||We should tax the rich and spend even more on health care.|
Whoa! Something’s wrong here.
Against the Wind
Whenever I see this type of commentary, I always wonder if there are some implicit assumptions the writer has failed to make clear. Perhaps some unexplained achievement in cost control, quality improvement or increased access are envisioned — even as we spend an extra $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
So let’s be upfront and clear about these issues: [link]
- If by cost control, you mean someone actually choosing between health care and other uses of money, there is no cost control in the Obama health plan.
- If by quality improvement, you mean providers competing for patients based on quality — the way producers compete in every other market — there is no quality improvement in the Obama health plan.
- If by improved access, you mean more people having the choice of doctors and facilities made possible by private health insurance, precisely the opposite will happen under Obama’s plan — as more people move from private plans into public plans that pay below market rates.
In making these observations, I am relying on Obama’s campaign materials and other documents — as explained here.