Health Care Reform As Stimulus

Matt Yglesias has an interesting take on an Ezra Klein post about how our current health care system relates to the job market and the economy at large.

But to think about it another way, there’s a theory that shows how higher taxes ought to stifle growth. There’s also an empirical finding that plenty of high-tax countries are rich. This bit about health insurance is, most likely, part of the reason. The US system reduces labor market flexibility and biases the economy toward incumbents and large firms.

Recently, I had the pleasure (not really) of arguing about health care policy with a Republican-minded fellow, who was, it turns out, not very smart about things. He suggested that all the people out there who wanted health insurance could simply just go and get a job at Starbucks or McDonald’s, since those places are always hiring.

Using myself as an example as an unemployed American who had to purchase catastrophe insurance when I got laid off from my full-time job, I wondered if this Republican-minded fellow thought that making triple caramel macchiatos would be the best use of my talent, being a person with a college degree. He didn’t have much of an answer.

I think it’s often underestimated, or misunderstood, what the potential positive effects a universal system would have on freeing up talented folks to do things they want, rather than have people stay in jobs they don’t particularly care for because they’re prescriptions are covered. And frankly, it would be beneficial to this debate for policymakers to establish more empirical data about the link between health care and economic and entrepenurial growth.

Advertisements

11 responses to “Health Care Reform As Stimulus

  1. This is a great post with solid thoughts. Universal health care is problematic, just like it’s absence. But with this issue, just like anything else, the stale “bootstraps” argument is easier to speak than it is to prove. I mean, I don’t know, but is MCD’s and Starbucks actually even hiring? Starbucks, last time I checked, was closing scores of stores in NYC alone. With over .5 million jobs getting cut every month, we’re gonna need a lot more MCD and Starbucks joints around here to hire skilled workers to do some pretty entry-level work (no offense barristers of the world). I’m trying to think of a parallel, a country where the highly-educated have trouble finding work. Egypt?

  2. The largest mistake was giving incentives to business to provide healthcare for workers, but providing no similar incentives for those not employed by large corporations to buy the coverage themselves. This reduces options for all workers, and certainly makes it more difficult for people choosing to work for themselves or those who change jobs often. Imagine if you had to get your car insurance through your job.

  3. I agree that healthcare should be available to all Americans, but I am weary about the idea of creating yet another huge inefficient federal beuracracy. Perhaps healthcare should be provided by the government at the state level.

  4. I don’t like the idea of states running the program. They’re just as inefficient as the feds, except they don’t have nearly the same access to funding. Also, where would the mandate come from for the states to provide insurance other than the federal government, so having the states administer the programs would create an unnecessary level of bureaucracy anyway. Not to mention the problem of economies of scale. Imagine the number of people New York would have to insure versus Rhode Island.

  5. “Not to mention the problem of economies of scale. Imagine the number of people New York would have to insure versus Rhode Island.”

    Rhode Island has a higher unemployment rate, second only to Michigan. New York has a much larger tax base. Further, at least people could move away from states that do a horrid job.

    More importantly, “funding” is not manna from heaven, they have to steal it from actual working people. God fear any sort of competitive environment that allowed productive individuals to flee terribly run government programs.

    Do commies have any goal other than centralizing power and enslaving the productive?

  6. You just made my argument for me. I don’t think having competition among the states is a good idea. It would be an unfair fight. As for your question about commies enslaving the productive, the answer is no, not really. The alleged “tax increases” that people are talking about is really just letting the failed Bush tax cuts expire. As for the notion that only people who make $250,000+ are productive, well you can guess my answer on that. The majority of the country, 99.3% to be exact, files below the $250,000 marginal tax rate, so if you’re referring to the tiny overclass as being the only “productive” members of the country, then you’re wrong.

  7. 2 points Clark.

    @ Mako Jones: The myth of big government bureaucratic inefficiency, in my mind, is that big private bureaucracies are any better.

    Here’s what I’ve learned from living in New York: Money talks. Whether it’s the DMV, the city Marshal who towed my car, the NYC Department of Finance, or Time Warner Cable, everything runs incredibly smoothly when there’s money to be made or paid. If you think there’s anything inefficient about the hordes of meter maids roaming the streets, you are mistaken, my friend. Them bitches preside over an incredible and terribly awesome machine.

    To assume that public and private entities are fundamentally different when it comes to this, I think, is a failure of looking at simple, carnal realities about corruption in all areas of society. Wall Street’s epic fucking fail should make this brutally apparent.

    If it’s truly profitable, it’s viable, and on that point, I could give a crap whether it comes from CEOs or G-men. What I want is for it to be accountable and transparent, and I think right now, those two wishes are best granted by Government.

  8. “You just made my argument for me. I don’t think having competition among the states is a good idea. It would be an unfair fight.”

    So you admit, you are not in favor of people having choices? You are against competition?

    As to the tax debate, you are so far out there it is laughable. Please take a look at who is actually footing the bill for government. The money comes from people who pay taxes. They work and earn money. All I ask is that you not be so cavalier about spending this money. Clearly you wanted to make this into some sort of emotional debate as that is all you know. Sad.

    “To assume that public and private entities are fundamentally different when it comes to this, I think, is a failure of looking at simple, carnal realities about corruption in all areas of society. Wall Street’s epic fucking fail should make this brutally apparent.”

    Private companies ASK for money in exchange for services. Governments TAKE money. This is the difference. People have choices when they buy from private companies. Government does not give them the choice. Pay or go to jail.

    As to your deep economic analysis on “epic fails”, it would serve you well to question just who controls and regulates the monetary and credit creation in the United States. The Federal Reserve at the core and an insanely regulated and manipulated banking system propped up and forced into existence by the Government via the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, and banking regulation.

    “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” Murray Newton Rothbard

  9. Despite the fact that you quoted me, you managed to misquote me. In the conversation about having the states administer health care programs, I said I thought that would be a bad idea, because you’d create unnecessary and harmful competition among states with regard to which state has a better plan. I don’t see how having states compete against each other fits into your anarcho-capitalist plan. People can choose to do whatever the fuck they like. All I’m saying is that I want to live in a country where, if you lose your job, you don’t lose your health insurance. Or if you’re struck ill by a major disease, you aren’t bankrupted by the genteel and magnanimous private entities you so dearly love.

  10. You are just saying, “I want someone else to pay for my health insurance.”

    Why does the world owe you a living?

  11. The world doesn’t owe me a living, and I did not say that I want someone else to pay for my health insurance. I want everyone to pay for everyone’s health insurance.

    Let me ask you this: is there a country other than America that you would voluntarily live in? Is there a government anywhere that you find acceptable? Because I don’t see it. And while your political views are attractive in theory, and they make for terrific debate, they do not seem fit for, you know, the world in which people actually live…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s