Brad DeLong quotes Paul Krugman on single-payer health care… read through both the post and the comments. Here are a couple of my favorite bits.
…The solution – national health insurance, available to everyone – is obvious. But to see the obvious we’ll have to overcome pride – the unwarranted belief that America has nothing to learn from other countries – and prejudice – the equally unwarranted belief, driven by ideology, that private insurance is more efficient than public insurance. [...]
Taiwan, which moved 10 years ago from a U.S.-style system to a Canadian-style single-payer system, offers an object lesson in the economic advantages of universal coverage. In 1995 less than 60 percent of Taiwan’s residents had health insurance; by 2001 the number was 97 percent. Yet… this huge expansion in coverage came virtually free: it led to little if any increase in overall health care spending beyond normal growth due to rising population and incomes. [...]
One way to implement national health care would simply be to expand Medicare to everyone.
Of course, doing that would require additional funds, probably in the form of an increase in the payroll tax. And that would elicit howls from the right. But the apparent rise in tax rates would be an illusion: it would simply substitute an explicit tax for the implicit tax that companies and workers pay in the form of insurance premiums. Given international experience, I have no doubt that overall spending on health care would actually fall, and that job creation would actually rise, after the supposed tax increase.
It’s a simple solution, building on a program that we already know works. It would make the vast majority of Americans better off. And it’s considered a complete non-starter politically. Now why is that?
Worldwide, I think the biggest single justice issue is the treatment of women in the third world, who are the poorest and most oppressed of the poorest and most oppressed. But within the United States, the lack of affordable medical care for poor and working-class people may be the most pressing – and also most clearly solvable – injustice we face.