First, read the story of Edith.  (Via Agto.)

Second, keep up with your Krugman– both columns and blog.  Some key facts about health care:

  • If you have employer-provided health care and are happy with it, thank the government– both for the tax break, and for requiring that employers who get that break offer insurance to all employees, and can’t screen out pre-existing conditions.
  • We already have a more-than-half-nationalized health care system: governments pay 47% of health care expenditures, private insurers 35%. 
  • Medicare costs rise slower than those of private companies (since 1970, 8.8% vs. 9.9%).
  • Whatever the free market is good for, it’s not health care.  Health doesn’t work like buying bread or computers– it’s a huge unpredictable expense, and the decisions involved are beyond consumers.  We need insurance to handle this sort of problem.  But if you let the market handle it, insurers will work hard to pay as little as possible.  This is socially destructive, adds to the health bill, and is eliminated in government programs.
  • The system of getting insurance through employers is slowly crumbling.  The percentage of employers who offer insurance is declining, and for some industries it’s a global competitive disadvantage.

(I assume you already know that US health care costs are far higher than most other industrialized countries while our actual health care is worse, and that Britain or Canada is not the only option out there.)

Insurers are scared to death of the “public option”, not because it’s “socialism”, but because it would reveal how much better the government could do at insuring people.  (If they thought they could do better, it wouldn’t worry them.)  Thus you see strange things like demands that the government not be able to negotiate price breaks… often you hear this from the same people who claim to be concerned about runaway health care costs or the deficit.