October 15, 2012

NICK GILLESPIE: Would ObamaCare Have Saved Nick Kristof’s Friend Better Than The Existing Healthcare System? “So maybe if he’d been forced to buy insurance against his will, he would have also visited the doctor for annual physicals including prostate exams or at least blood screens for that sort of trouble. Maybe, though having insurance and using it for the sorts of regular care (such as blood screens for PSA levels) that would have caught this problem early on are very different matters. . . . The story Kristof tells is not a happy one, to be sure. If Androes had acted differently, his cancer might have been caught much sooner when it was more easily treated. Certainly, that would have cost less both in terms of heartache and anxiety and in terms of dollars and cents. But the fact is also that Androes is getting treatment—and in a way that is not bankrupting him. And if you have deadly cancer, you’re better off on average to be in the United States than anywhere else in the developed world; the five-year survival rates for most cancers are better here than in Canada, Europe, or Japan.”

I wasn’t deeply moved by the story of a guy who had a “midlife crisis” and chose not to buy health insurance because he preferred to spend the money on other things. It’s like choosing not to wear seat belt.

More: “What’s missing from Kristof’s piece—and from too much of the discussion about health care reform—is any sense of how the current employer-based system (which Obamacare does virtually nothing to change) came into being and how an actual market in the provision of health care (not even insurance per se) might improve the situation. Why do blood tests and basic checkups cost so much? It’s not because markets are allowed to work; indeed, it’s precisely because every aspect of the delivery system is wrapped up in more red tape than we can imagine or untangle. By adding more bureaucracy and oversight from afar, Obamacare will certainly increase many of the problems it set out to address. And there’s no reason to believe that the law—whose cost estimates are already climbing prior to full implementaiton—will make care cheaper or better.”

Nope. But it will empower bureaucrats and increase the opportunities for political graft. So: Mission accomplished!

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