It’s fun watching liberals castigate each other for failing to make exactly exactly the right arguments that would persuade us to happily cough up an extra $1.5 trillion to pay for worse and government-rationed health care.
Here’s Thomas Frank tying himself in logical knots in today’s Wall Street Journal:
[H]ealth care is not an individual commodity to be bought and enjoyed like other products. That the health of each of us depends on the health of the rest of us, as epidemics from the Middle Ages to this year’s flu have demonstrated. Health care is “a public good,” says the Chicago labor lawyer Tom Geoghegan. “You can’t capture health care just for yourself. You have to share it with others in order to protect your own health.”
Yes, Democrats can prove that America pays more for health care than other countries; yes, they have won the dispute that private health insurance is needlessly expensive. But what they’ve lost is the argument that we are a society.
Don’t you love the idea of a labor lawyer–and a labor lawyer from Chicago,yet!–defining what health care is?
Not to mention the fact that legal eagle Geoghegan’s argument gets stretched a little thin once you move away from epidemics, which present genuine public-health concerns (concerns that, by the way, even the single-payer system that Frank would like to see can’t do much about, as we’re observing in the U.K. right now). But what if your medical problem isn’t swine flu or the Black Death? What if it’s a broken arm? Or cancer? How do those conditions “depend on the health of others”? How do you “share” your bone splint or chemotherapy with “society”?
Memo to Attorney Geoghegan and Professor Frank: America pays more for health care partly because America is a wealthy country with the the best outcomes for serious conditions such as cancer and the most innovative medicine on earth? Private health insurance is expensive partly because lawyers like Geoghegan have forced doctors to pay sky-high malpractice premiums and perform needless tests and because activists like Frank have pushed for laws requireing health policies to include expensive coverage mandates.
“Society” has already made made health care far more costly than it should be–and the majority of Americans have wisely decided that they don’t want “society” to spend $1.5 trillion more.