What to talk about?

I could present an article on the White House Happy Hour with Gates, Crowley, and the Prez…it would be oh-so-sexy, not mention fun to whine about the fact that the beer fest really need not be the leading headlines when we might actually have better things to discuss. But really, that is all so last week. In fact, I’m not even going to read the 2.874 million articles that will surely be discussing what kind of beer they exchanged sweet nothings over. Hence, I’ll have nothing to talk about on that score.  And, I’m not ignoring just because I’m not of the beer-drinking persuasion.

Instead! There is this really interesting (for real!) Op-Ed piece by Paul Krugman on the Realities of Health Care. He starts off with an amusing anecdote, which is really more tragic than anything else:

At a recent town hall meeting, a man stood up and told Representative Bob Inglis to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” The congressman, a Republican from South Carolina, tried to explain that Medicare is already a government program — but the voter, Mr. Inglis said, “wasn’t having any of it.”

As Krugman later writes, Americans don’t understand the health care system we are working with now, so how can they be expected to understand the reforms that are needed? This article is worth a read for those wondering how badly can government intervention in health care really mess things up, for that is exactly what the conservatives would like us to believe. What is government already doing right?

Still, most Americans under 65 do have some form of private insurance. The vast majority, however, don’t buy it directly: they get it through their employers. There’s a big tax advantage to doing it that way, since employer contributions to health care aren’t considered taxable income. But to get that tax advantage employers have to follow a number of rules; roughly speaking, they can’t discriminate based on pre-existing medical conditions or restrict benefits to highly paid employees.

And it’s thanks to these rules that employment-based insurance more or less works, at least in the sense that horror stories are a lot less common than they are in the individual insurance market.

So here’s the bottom line: if you currently have decent health insurance, thank the government.

While we may not be sold on the current plan, as it’s being tweaked half to death, it’s difficult to say that we need no government plan.


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