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Monday, March 19th 2007

Liberal, Health Policy, & Slate Mag? Absurd!

Slate continues to publish authors touting government guaranteed health care. You have to play to your audience, and no one doubts that the general public (and by extension Slate’s readership) enjoys entitlements…especially as the income inequality increases, but still you should be able to expect Slate to publish better arguments than this.

Reality 1: The current system is increasingly inaccessible to many poor and lower-middle-class people (about 47 million Americans lack health insurance, up from about 40 million in 2000)

*Jeopardy Wrong Answer Sound*

You can’t tout inaccessibility with the CPS 44 million figure. Even conservative estimates put somewhere around 40% of the uninsured as either uncovered by choice (they can afford it) or just clueless about public assistance programs they (or their dependents) could be enrolled in.

From their the article goes off into the old, absolutely ridiculous argument that we spend more but we don’t get more.

[The U.S.] experiences slightly lower life expectancy than those countries and significantly higher infant mortality

As If Health Care Access or Quality of Health Care Is The Major Driving Force Behind Our Life Expectancy Figures & Not Lifestyle Choices

My typical rant. Lose some weight, then complain about how your life expectancy is lower than if you lived in France.

If I have one big complaint about the liberal argument for entitlement it is that there is no argument at all. It is heart on sleeve, antecedal sob stories to the end. Nothing more. The Slate article turns into a lovefest for a book called Sick. I haven’t read it, but I will. I can’t promise to go into it with an open mind however, since Slate’s description of it is of personal stories.

Jonathan Cohn, a senior editor at the New Republic, has written such a book, and I would urge Sen. Wyden to read it at least three times. Cohn’s book, to be published next month, is Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis—And the People Who Paid the Price. Each chapter of Cohn’s book is devoted to one or two patient narratives that illuminate a particular dysfunction of the present medical system, and the chapters are arranged in such a way that the dysfunctions appear more or less in the order in which they first became significant national problems. The result is an 80-year chronology of repeated market failure, with each successive reform serving at best as temporary respite from the previous problem. Read it and weep. Capitalism can’t deliver decent health care.

The scientific method at work. Critical thinking at work. Call it heartless but these stories of how healthcare let some hard working farming family down and how they had to sell the old Chevy to pay for an operation and still their father lost his big toe to gangrene and, as well, it’s also the corrupt healthcare market’s fault that their dog Fido died, disgust me when they’re tried to put into the current argument.

They simply do not inform the debate.

At least the author of the Slate article gets the basic history of health insurance right, if not the right conclusions from it.