Fiscal Conservatives Should Love National Health Care

Kevin Drum – Mother Jones:

In the long run, however, Frum is right. It’s ironic, but it turns out that central governments are a lot better at keeping a lid on health care costs than the private sector. The reason is taxes. National health care is paid for out of tax revenue, and the public pressure to keep taxes low is so strong that it universally translates into strong government pressure to keep health care costs low. By contrast, the private sector is so splintered that no corporation has the leverage to demand significantly lower costs. Besides, if health care costs go up, corporations can make up for it by keeping cash salaries low. This is part of the reason that median incomes have grown so slowly over the past 15 years. Corporations simply don’t care enough about high health care costs to really do anything about it.

The costs associated with a short hospital stay, or a procedure, even something as commonplace as a heart attack are obscene. Put bluntly, either you have insurance to cover the costs and pay relatively little out of pocket, or you suffer and maybe die. Or you’re age 65 or over, covered by Medicare and perhaps a Medigap policy, and pay next to nothing.

In short we already have an answer to the problem of health insurance coverage, and have had it since 1966. And it doesn’t mean the end of private insurance companies, though it does likely mean consolidation in that industry.

One way or another, the US eventually will find its way to universal, single-payer health insurance coverage. It’s going to take failure of the GOP’s AHCA bill, or enactment followed by popular revolt, or even, though unlikely, nationwide failure of the ACA before Congress throws in the towel and begins negotiating like politicians.

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