A Healthcare Question

A HEALTHCARE QUESTION….Tyler Cowen has a question for us advocates of universal healthcare:

Let’s rate “the paper clip industry” as a 9 out of 10. Paper clips are pretty cheap and usually they work. Let’s rate the better federal agencies as a 6.5 out of 10. Let’s rate HUD as a 2.5 out of ten.

How will national health insurance do, keeping in mind that U.S. doctors do not wish to have their wages cut, Americans want the right to choose their doctors, and the U.S. is a huge, messy, decentralized, federalistic country with lots of cheats and massive, hard-to-eradicate inequalities at many different levels.

I give it about a 3. How about you?

Let me take a stab at this. Under Medicare, doctors are paid pretty decently, patients get to choose their doctors, and the system currently operates in the United States, messiness and all. So the short answer is that we don’t really have to guess at this: national healthcare ought to work at least well as Medicare. And surveys indicate that the group of people who are most satisfied with the healthcare system in the United States are…..

The elderly. Who all use Medicare.

I don’t know exactly what number to put to this, but a system that provides good quality care, gets high marks from its customers, covers everyone, and operates at a cost no higher than private healthcare seems like a pretty good deal. Maybe not as good as the paper clip industry, but surely at least a 6 out of 10.

And now a reverse question: how would Tyler rate the patchwork system we have today?